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Overawing the en&my. 
The Paul Jones and the JEfowon. 

(See p*ffe 1*.) 









THE history of the United States navy is so in- 
timately connected with that of our privateers that 
the story of one would be incomplete without a full 
record of the other. In each of our wars witli Great 
Britain many of the captains in the navy assumed 
command of privateers, in which they frequently 
rendered services of national importance, while the 
privateersmen furnished' the navy with a large num- 
ber of officers, many of whom became famous. In 
our struggle for independence more than sixty 
American craft armed by private enterprise were 
commanded by men who had been, or soon became, 
officers in the regular service; and in more than 
one instance, notably that of the officers and men 
of the Ranger Captain John Paul Jones 5 famous 
ship, then commanded by Captain William Simpson 
almost the entire ship's company of a Continental 
cruiser turned to privateering. Many of our most 
distinguished naval officers have pointed with pride 
to their probationary career in privateers. The mere 
mention of such names as Truxtun, Porter, Biddle, 
Decatur, Barney, Talbot, Barry, Perry, Murray, 
Rodgers, Cassin, Little, Robinson, Smith, and Hop- 
kins will show how closely related were the two arms 
of our maritime service. 

In his History of the United States Navy the 
author endeavored to show that our maritime 
forces were a powerful factor not only in attain- 
ing American independence, but in maintaining it. 





A few general statements will show that in both 
wars with England our privateers were a most 
important if not predominating feature of our early 
sea power. In our first struggle the Government 
war vessels built, purchased, or hired numbered 
forty-seven, or, including the flotilla on Lake Cham- 
plain, sixty-four vessels of all descriptions, carry- 
ing a total of one thousand two hundred and forty- 
two guns and swivels. This force captured one 
hundred and ninety-six vessels. Of the privateers 
there were seven hundred and ninety-two, carrying 
more than thirteen thousand guns and swivels. 
These vessels captured or destroyed about six hun- 
dred British vessels. In the War of 1812 the regular 
navy of the United States on the ocean numbered 
only twenty-three vessels, carrying in all five hun- 
dred and fifty-six guns. This force captured two 
hundred and fifty-four of the enemy's craft. In the 
same period we had five hundred and seventeen pri- 
vateers, aggregating two thousand eight hundred 
and ninety-three guns, which took no fewer than one 
thousand three hundred prizes. 

The following table will show, in a most strik- 
ing manner, the importance of the part taken by our 
privateers in the struggle for independence: 

Comparative List of American-armed Vessels (1776-178$). 

























Comparative Number of Ghwa carried ly the above Vessels. 









Continental . , 














ft 7ft "J 


Looking at it from a financial point of view, we 
find that the money value of the prizes and cargoes 


taken by Government cruisers during the Revolu- 
tion, allowing an average of thirty thousand dollars 
for each, to be less than six million dollars, and, 
allowing the same average for the privateers, we 
have a total of eighteen million dollars. In the sec- 
ond war with Great Britain we find, on the same basis 
of calculation, the money value of Government prizes 
to be six million six hundred thousand dollars, while 
that of the privateers was thirty-nine million-dol- 
lars. Taking the entire maritime forces of 

United States both navy and privateers into - 
sideration, we find that about eight hundred vesab? 
were captured from the English in the war form 
dependence, valued at twenty-three million ^ight 
hundred and eighty thousand dollars, while the pris- 
oners could not have been short of sixteen thou- 
sand; and in the second war against Great Britain 
the value of the prizes was forty-five million six hun- 
dred thousand dollars, while there were no fewer 
than thirty thousand prisoners. Against these 
figures we have some twenty-two thousand prison- 
ers taken by our land forces during the Revolution, 
and about six thousand in the War of 1812. 

To the American people, who for generations 
have been taught that our independence was 
achieved almost entirely by the efforts of our land 
forces, and that the War of 1812 was brought to a 
creditable close principally by the operations of our 
armies, these statements of the comparative values 
and amount of work done on sea and land will prove 
a matter of surprise. Every reader of American 
history is familiar with the capture of Stony Point 
and its British garrison of five hundred and forty- 
three men; of Ticonderoga, with its garrison of fifty 
men; of the battle of Trenton, with nearly one thou- 
sand prisoners. But it is doubtful if many have 
heard of the capture of three hundred British sol- 
diers, with their colonel, in two transports, by the 
little State cruiser Lee, of the two hundred High- 

I PREFACE. 1775-1815. 

landers and twenty army officers of the Seventy- 
first Begiment by our Andrea Doria, of twenty-four 
British army officers by Captain John Burroughs 
Hopkins' squadron, of the two hundred and forty 
Hessians captured by the privateer Mars, of the 
company of dragoons taken by the privateer Massa- 
chusetts, of the sixty-three Hessian chasseurs made 
prisoners by the privateer Tyrannicide, of the capture 
colonel, four lieutenant colonels, and three 
by the privateer Vengeance, and of the capture 
<ofone hundred soldiers by the privateer Warren. 
all know that Washington took about one thou- 
men at Trenton, that Gates made some eight 
thousand prisoners at Saratoga, and that the Ameri- 
cans and French secured about seven thousand at 
Yorktown; but it is not so generally known that 
in the same period fully sixteen thousand prisoners 
were made by our sea forces. While fewer than 
six thousand prisoners were taken by our land forces 
in the War of 1812, fully thirty thousand were taken 
by our sea forces. 

A careful review of British newspapers, period- 
icals, speeches in Parliament, and public addresses 
for the periods covered by these two wars will show 
that our land forces, in the estimation of the British, 
played a very insignificant part, while our sea forces 
were constantly in their minds when "the Ameri- 
can war " was under discussion. When England de- 
termined to coerce the refractory Americans, she 
little thought that she was inviting danger to her 
own doors. Her idea of an American war was a 
somewhat expensive transportation of German mer- 
cenaries across the Atlantic, where the dispute 
would be settled in a wilderness, far removed from 
any possible chance of interference with British in- 
terests in other parts of the world. The British mer- 
chant looked forward to the war with no small de- 
gree of complacency; for, in spite of the provisions 
of the Navigation Acts, which were designed espe- 

1776-1815. POTENCY OF OUE SEA POWER. xi 

cially to protect him from colonial competition, he 
keenly felt American rivalry for the carrying trade 
of the world. It would cost several million pounds 
annually to send Hessians to America, but this would 
be more than offset by the British merchant secur- 
ing the colonist's share of commerce. 

This was the view generally taken by Englishmen 
before hostilities began. But had they anticipated 
that American cruisers and privateers would cross 
the Atlantic and throw their coasts into continual 
alarm; that their shipping, even in their own har- 
bors, would be in danger; that it would be unsafe 
for peers of the realm to remain at their country 
seats; that British commerce would be almost an- 
nihilated; that sixteen thousand seamen and eight 
hundred vessels would be taken from them they 
would have entered upon a coercive policy with far 
greater hesitancy. Without her ships and sailors 
England would be reduced to one of the least of the 
European powers, and, while she could afford to lose 
a few thousand Hessians, the loss of her maritime 
ascendency touched her to the quick. It was this 
attack on England's commerce that struck the mor- 
tal blows to British supremacy in America not 
Saratoga nor Yorktown. 

Dr. Franklin early saw the great importance, our 
marine forces would play in this struggle. Writing 
from Paris, May 26, 1777, to the Committee on For- 
eign Affairs, he said: " I have not the least doubt but 
that two or three of the Continental frigates sent 
into the German Ocean, with some less swift-sailing 
craft, might intercept and seize a great part of the 
Baltic and Northern trade. One frigate would be 
sufficient to destroy the whole of the Greenland fish- 
eries and take the Hudson Bay ships returning." 
Not having the frigates available, the Marine Com- 
mittee sent the cruisers Reprisal and LeaAngton; and 
in June these little vessels, with the 10-gun cutter 
Dolphin, made two complete circuits of Ireland, occa- 

xii PREFACE. 1777, 

sioning the greatest alarm, and after securing fif- 
teen prizes they returned to France, where the prizes 
were sold to French merchants. The proceeds thus 
realized afforded much needed pecuniary assistance 
to the American commissioners who were pleading 
the cause of the colonists in European courts. The 
two celebrated expeditions of Captain John Paul 
Jones are equaled in the annals of marine history 
only by the daring and success of our privateers. 

So great was the alarm occasioned by the exploits 
of the American maritime forces that Silas Dean, 
writing to the Marine Committee in 1777, said: " It 
effectually alarmed England, prevented the great 
fair at Chester, occasioned insurance to rise, and 
even deterred the English merchants from shipping 
goods in English vessels at any rate of insurance. So 
that in a few weeks forty French ships were loaded 
in London on freight an instance never before 
known." Not only did the British merchants ask 
for the protection of war ships for their merchant- 
men on distant voyages, but they even demanded 
escorts for linen ships from Ireland to England. " In 
no former war," said a contemporary English 
newspaper, " not even in any of the wars with France 
and Spain, were the linen vessels from Ireland to 
England escorted by war ships." 

The following letter, written from Jamaica in 
1777 by an Englishman, shows what havoc was cre- 
ated in British commerce by our privateers: " Within 
one week upward of fourteen sail of our ships have 
been carried into Martinique by American priva- 
teers." Another Englishman, writing from Grenada 
in the same year, says: "Everything continues ex- 
ceedingly dear, and we are happy if we can get any- 
thing for money, by reason of the quantity of vessels 
taken by the Americans. A fleet of vessels came 
from Ireland a few days ago. From sixty vessels 
that departed from Ireland not above twenty-five 
arrived in this and neighboring islands, the others, 


it is thought, being all taken by American priva- 
teers. God knows, if this American war continues 
much longer we shall all die with hunger. There 
was a ship from Africa with four hundred and fifty 
negroes, some thousand weight of gold dust, and a 
great many elephant teeth the whole cargo being 
computed to be worth twenty thousand pounds also 
taken by an American privateer, a brig mounting 
fourteen cannon." So loud were the protests of the 
British mercantile classes against carrying on the 
American war that every pressure was brought to 
bear on Parliament for its discontinuance. 

It will be interesting to note that in all the memo- 
rials presented to Parliament the arguments used 
to bring about peace with America was the unprec- 
edented destruction of British commerce. On the 
6th of February, 1778, Alderman Woodbridge testi- 
fied at the bar of the House of Lords that " the num- 
ber of ships lost by capture or destroyed by Ameri- 
can privateers since the beginning of the war was 
seven hundred and thirty-three, whose cargoes were 
computed to be worth over ten million dollars. That 
insurance before the war was two per cent, to Amer- 
ica and two and one half to North Carolina, Jamaica, 
etc., but now that insurance had more than doubled, 
even with a strong escort, and, without an escort, 
fifteen per cent." 

William Oreighton, who also appeared before 
their lordships, said that "the losses suffered by 
British merchants in consequence of captures made 
by American privateers up to October, 1777, could 
not be short of eleven million dollars." In 1776 Cap- 
tain Bucklon, of the 16-gun privateer Montgomery, 
from Ehode Island, reported that the rate of insur- 
ance in England had risen to thirty per cent, on ves- 
sels sailing in convoy, and to fifty per cent, for those 
sailing without convoy. Bucklon made this report 
on his return from a cruise in the English Channel. 

When the War of 1812 was about to break out 

xiv PREFACE. 1812. 

the English carried a vivid recollection of the dam- 
ages our maritime forces had occasioned in the first 
war, and seemed to be more concerned with what 
American sea power might do in the impending 
war than what our land forces could do. The Lon- 
don Statesman said: " Every one must recollect what 
they did in the latter part of the American war. The 
books at Lloyd's will recount it, and the rate of 
assurances at that time will clearly prove what their 
diminutive strength was able to effect in the face 
of our navy, and that when nearly one hundred pen- 
nants were flying on their coast. Were we able to 
prevent their going in and out, or stop them from 
taking our trade and our storeships, even in sight of 
our own garrisons? Besides, were they not in the 
English and Irish Channels picking up our homeward- 
bound trade, sending their prizes into French and 
Spanish ports, to the great terror and annoyance of 
our merchants and shipowners? 

" These are facts which can be traced to a period 
when America was in her infancy, without ships, 
without money, and at a time when our navy was 
not much less in strength than at present. The 
Americans will be found to be a different sort of 
enemy by sea than the French. They possess nauti- 
cal knowledge, with equal enterprise to ourselves. 
They will be found attempting deeds which a French- 
man would never think of, and they will have all the 
ports of our enemy open, in which they can make 
good their retreat with their booty. In a predatory 
war on commerce Great Britain would have more to 
lose than to gain, because the Americans would re- 
tire within themselves, having everything they want 
for supplies, and what foreign commerce they might 
have would be carried on in fast-sailing, armed ves- 
sels, which, as heretofore, would be able to fight or 
run, as best suited their force or inclination." 

Such was the opinion of an intelligent English 
writer as to the potency of American maritime, en- 


terprise in the pending war. About the same time 
Mr. Niles, of Baltimore, wrote: "How far will the 
revenue [of Great Britain] be touched by the irre- 
sistible activity and enterprise of one hundred thou- 
sand American seamen, prepared or preparing them- 
selves, to assail British commerce in every sea to 
cut off supplies from abroad and forbid exportation 
with safety! The Americans will prove themselves 
an enemy more destructive than Great Britain ever 
had on the ocean they will do deeds that other 
sailors would not dare to reflect on* Witness their 
exploits in the Eevolutionary War and at Tripoli, 
in which, perhaps, not a single instance occurred of 
their being defeated by an equal force, though many 
cases to the contrary are numerous. What part of 
the enemy's trade will be safe? France, duly esti- 
mating the capacity of America to injure a common 
enemy, will open all the ports of the continent as 
places of refuge and deposit for our privateers, and 
all the fleets of England cannot confine them to their 
harbors, at home or abroad. The British Channel 
will be vexed by their enterprises, and one hundred 
sail of armed vessels will be inadequate to the pro- 
tection of the trade passing through it. For the 
probability of these things let Lloyd's lists from 1777 
to 1783 be referred to. Terror will pervade the com- 
mercial mind and mighty bankruptcies follow, to all 
which will be superadded the great privations of 
the manufacturers and the increased distresses of 
the poor." 

Toward the close of the War of 1812 English 
newspapers were full of articles recounting the vast 
amount of damage that had been inflicted on British 
commerce by American privateers. The master of 
one English vessel, who hacl been captured three 
times by American privateers and as many times 
recaptured, reported that he had seen no less than 
ten Yankee privateers in his wage. In June, 1813, 
flour in Great Britain was Sfty-eight dollars a bar* 

xvi PBBFAOJ3. 1818-1814. 

rel, beef thirty-eight dollars, pork thirty-six dollars, 
and lumber seventy-two dollars a thousand feet. 

One of the newspapers said: " At Halifax insur- 
ance has been absolutely refused on most vessels, 
on others thirty-three per cent, has been added to 
the former premiums. We do not hear of the cap- 
ture of but one privateer for several weeks; that 
was the Harlequin, a new vessel, elegantly fitted, from 
an eastern port. She was taken by the 74-gun ship 
of the line Bulwark by a stratagem. The depredation 
of the American privateers on the coasts of Ireland 
and Scotland had produced so strong a sensation at 
Lloyd's that it was difficult to get policies under- 
written except at enormous rates of premiums. 
Thirteen guineas for one hundred pounds was paid 
to insure vessels across the Irish Channel! Such 
a thing, we believe, never happened before." 

A number of meetings of merchants, shipowners, 
and others interested in trade were held in Liverpool, 
Glasgow, and at other important shipping centers 
at which the depredations of American privateers 
were deplored. Such a meeting was held, September, 
1814, in Q-lasgow by public advertisement, and held 
by special requisition on the Lord Provost. At this 
gathering it was resolved unanimously: " That the 
number of privateers with which our channels have 
been infested, the audacity with which they have 
approached our coasts, and the success with which 
their enterprise has been attended, have proved in- 
jurious to our commerce, humbling to our pride, and 
discreditable to the directors of the naval power 
of the British nation, whose flag, till of late, waved 
over every sea and triumphed over every rival. That 
there is reason to believe that in the short space 
of less than twenty*four months above eight hun- 
dred vessels have baen captured by that power whose 
maritime strength ye have hitherto, impolitically, 
held in contempt. Twit, at a time when we were at 
t>eace with all the woi%a, when the maintenance of 


our marine costs so large a sum to the country, 
when the mercantile and shipping interests pay a 
tax for protection under the form of convoy duty, 
and when in the plenitude of our power we have 
declared the whole American coast under blockade, 
it is equally distressing and mortifying that our ships 
can not with safety traverse our own channels, 1 that in- 
surance cannot be effected but at an excessive 
premium, and that a horde of American cruisers 
should be allowed, unheeded, unresisted, and un- 
molested, to take, burn, or sink our own vessels in 
our own inlets, and almost in sight of our own 

"That the ports of the Clyde have sustained 
severe loss from the depredations already committed, 
and there is reason to apprehend still more serious 
suffering, not only from the extent of the coasting 
trade and the number of vessels yet to arrive from 
abroad, but as the time is fast approaching when 
the outward-bound ships must .proceed to Cork for 
convoys, and when, during the winter season, the 
opportunities of the enemy will be increased both 
to capture with ease and escape with impunity. 
That the system of burning and destroying every 
article which there is fear of losing a system pur- 
sued by all the cruisers and encouraged by their 
own Governments diminishes the chances of re- 
capture and renders the necessity of prevention more 

From the foregoing it is seen that the English 
themselves regarded our maritime forces, rather 
than our land forces, as the dominant factors in both 
these wars. We do not hear of any high municipal 
officers testifying at the bar of the House of Lords 
as to the vast amount of damage caused by Ameri- 
can armies, or as to the danger menacing Greal 

Britain from any movements of our land forces. Wo 


1 The italics are tb author's. 

xviii PBEFACE. . 1813-1814. 

hear of no petitions direct to the throne asking pro- 
tection for British interests from our soldiers. We 
do not come across notices of meetings held to 
protest against the ravages caused by our troops. 
On the contrary, the British public seemed to have 
ignored our land forces altogether, or, when they 
were mentioned, it was only to speak of them with 
contempt, as the following extract from the Lon- 
don Times will show. Speaking of the Wasp-Rein- 
deer action, it says: "It seems fated that the 
ignorance, incapacity, and cowardice of the Ameri- 
cans by land should be continually relieved in 
point of effect on the public mind by their successes 
at sea. To the list of their captures, which we can 
never peruse without the most painful emotions, is 
now to be added that of His Majesty's ship Reindeer, 
taken after a short but most desperate action by the 
United States sloop of war Wasp. 97 

We do not find the English studying our army 
tactics, with a view of profiting by any superior ar- 
rangements which American ingenuity and fore- 
thought may have suggested; but we do find them 
examining most minutely into the construction and 
discipline in our war ships, and frankly acknowl- 
edging our superiority in many important details. 
When the London Times learned of the result of 
the Enterprise-Better fight, it said: "The fact seems 
to be but too clearly established that the Americans 
have some superior mode of firing, and that we can 
not be too anxiously employed in discerning to what 
circumstance that superiority is owing." We do not 
find English military officers changing their methods 
of army management after models devised by Ameri- 
cans, but we do find the Admiralty adopting Ameri- 
can naval ideas in a most radical and sweeping man- 
ner. We introduced 24-pounders in our frigates, 
which at first the ejxemy ridiculed, but before the 
war was over they \tere compelled to imitate, and 
thev Daid us tha compliment of building and 


fitting out cruisers on the " exact lines" of the 
American 44-gun frigates. In the introduction to 
a new edition of Mr. James' History of the British 
Navy, the editor remarks: "It is but justice, in re- 
gard to America, to mention that England has bene- 
fited by her [America's] example, and that the large 
classes of frigates now employed in the British serv- 
ice (1826) are modeled after those of the United 
States." Our frigates were called "terrible non- 
descripts," and one of the English 74-gun line of bat- 
tle ships actually sailed from Cadiz for the North 
American station disguised as a frigate. The London 
Courier of January 4, 1813, notes that some of the 
most famous British line of battle ships some of 
them having been under Nelson's orders including 
the Culloden, Monarch, Thunderer, and Resolution, were 
selected to be cut down as frigates to cope with our 
Constitution, President, and United States. 

An English naval expert, speaking of the Goliath 
(1898) as the latest and most powerful battle ship 
ever constructed in Great Britain, says: "It is 
of historic interest that the modern ironclad, with 
its turrets and massive plates, had its root idea in 
the famous monitors first designed for the United 
States Government by Ericsson, who sought to com- 
bine invulnerability with very heavy ordnance. The 
earliest monitors had decks almost level with the 
water, revolving turrets, and cannon that threw 
round shot one hundred and fifty pounds and upward 
in weight. But even under favorable conditions they 
could fire only one round in three minutes; and, al- 
though that measure of offensive capacity was capa- 
ble of destroying any other contemporary man-of- 
war, it would be of no account at the present day. 
Ericsson, however, gave the cue to naval designers 
all over the world, and his elementary principle has 
only been developed and modifted during the years 
that have elapsed." , 

For capturing the Chesapeake Captain Broke re- 

ceived a sword from the city of London, the Tow< 
guns were fired in honor of the victory, and the fre 
doin of the city was presented to him honors seldo 
granted. When the news of the Chesapeake } s defe; 
reached London Parliament was in session and Loi 
Cochrane was severely criticising the Government 
naval administration of the war. Mr. Croker " roi 
to answer him with the announcement that the SJia 
non had captured the Chesapeake. This was receive 
with the loudest and most cordial acclamations fro 
every part of the House " simply because an En 
lish ship had captured an American of equal force. 

It is in vain that we search the English new 
papers for those expressions of fear and humiliate 
on the report of their land reverses which they i 
freely indulged in on hearing of the loss of the 
ships. When the London Times learned of the lo 
of the first British frigate in 1812 it said: We knn 
not any calamity of twenty times its amount th 
might have been attended with more serious **o 
sequences to the worsted party had it not be< 
counterbalanced by a contemporaneous advanta; 
[alluding to Wellington's successes in Spain] of 
much greater magnitude. As it was, the IOSR 
the Guerri&re spread a degree of gloom through t 
town which it was painful to observe." 

The news of the second naval defeat waa 
first discredited: "There is a report that anoth 
English frigate, the Macedonian-, has been captur 
by an American. We shall certainly be very ba< 
ward in believing a second recurrence of such 
national disgrace. . . . Certainly there was a th 
when it would not have been believed that t 
American navy could have appeared upon the hij 
seas after a six months' war with England; mi* 
less that it could, within that period, have been twi 
victorious. Bed twitmra mutantur," On the folio 
ing day, when the news was confirmed, the Tim 
exclaimed: i In the name of God, what was done wi 


this immense superiority of force!" And the nes 
day it says: " Oh, what a charm is hereby dissolved 
What hopes will be excited in the breasts of on 
enemies! The land spell of the French is broke 
[alluding to Napoleon's disastrous retreat froi 
Moscow], and so is our sea spell." The Londo: 
Chronicle asked: " Is it not sickening to see that n 
experience has been sufficient to rouse our Admiral 
ty to take such measures that may protect the Bri1 
ish flag from such disgrace." 

The news of the loss of the third British frigate 
the Java, was commented upon by the Times as fo] 
lows: " The public will learn, with sentiments whicl 
we shall not presume to anticipate, that a third Bri1 
ish frigate has struck to an American. . . . This i 
an occurrence that calls for serious reflection thi 
and the fact stated in our paper of yesterday, tha 
Lloyd's list contains notices of upward of five hun 
dred British vessels captured in seven months b; 
the Americans. Five hundred merchantmen an< 
three frigates! Can these statements be true? An< 
can the English people hear them unmoved? An; 
one who had predicted such a result of an America] 
war this time last year would have been treated ai 
a madman or a traitor. He would have been told 
if his opponents had condescended to argue wit] 
him, that long ere seven months had elapsed th< 
American flag would have been swept from the seas 
the contemptible navy of the United States annihi 
lated, and their marine arsenals rendered a hea] 
of ruins. Yet down to this moment not a singL 
American frigate has struck her flag." 

It is interesting to note, in connection with thi 
subject, that James' History of the British Nav 
was inspired by the naval occurrences between th 
United States and Great Britain: James first wrot 
a small pamphlet, entitled An Inquiry into th 
Merits of the Principal Actions between Great Bri1 
ain and the United States.' This work met wit] 

xxii PREFACE. 1814, 

such encouragement that he wrote his Naval Oc- 
currences, of the Late War between Great Britain 
and the United States, a single octavo volume. The 
reception given to these two works induced him 
to write his History of the British Navy, which for 
more than half a century has been regarded as the 
standard work on that subject the result, as the 
author himself declares, of the naval operations of 
the United States maritime forces. 1 

In summing up the results of this war, the Times 
for December 30, 1814, says: "We have retired from 
the combat with the stripes yet bleeding on our 
backs. Even yet, however, if we could but close the 
war with some great naval triumph, the reputation 
of our maritime greatness might be partially re- 
stored. But to say that it has not suffered in the 
estimation of all Europe, and, what is worse, of 
America herself, is to belie common sense and uni- 
versal experience. * Two or three of our ships have 
struck to a force vastly inferior!' No, not two or 
three, but many on the ocean and whole squadrons 
on the lakes, and the numbers are to be viewed with 
relation to the comparative magnitude of the two 
navies. Scarcely is there an American ship of war 
which has not to boast a victory over the British 
flag; scarcely one British ship in thirty or forty that 
has beaten an American. With the bravest seamen 
and the most powerful navy in the world, we retire 
from the contest when the balance of defeat is so 
heavy against us." And it may be added that this 
was written before the Times had heard of the cap- 
ture of the Gyane and the Levant by the Conrtitution 
the most brilliant naval victory of the war or 
the disabling of the Endymion by the President, or 
the capture of the Nautilus by the Peacock, or the 

1 Lord Nelson's first prizWas an American privateer, and his first 
command, the 14-gun whoonfyfrichiribrook, was captured at sea by an 
American privateer shortly after poison had left her. 


capture of the Penguin by the Hornet, or the disas- 
trous and humiliating repulse of armed boats from a 
British squadron by the American privateer G-eneral 
Armstrong at Fayal. 

From the foregoing it will be seen that, so far as 
the British were concerned, it was our maritime 
forces, rather than our armies, that played the domi- 
nating part in both the war for our independence and 
in the War of 1812. The object of all wars is to 
operate on the mind of the enemy to the extent of 
bringing him to the desired terms. That our mari- 
time forces were vastly more efficient in this effort 
is seen by the unbiased testimony of the English 

Such being the importance of the part played by 
our sea power in these two wars, it is fitting that our 
privateers should be properly recognized in the his- 
tory of our navy, inasmuch as they formed the larg- 
est section of our maritime forces in those struggles. 
It is not the author's purpose to defend privateer- 
ing. The Declaration of Paris in 1856 sealed the 
fate of that style of warfare, so far as civilized coun- 
tries are concerned; for, although the United States 
and Spain did not ratify the Declaration, yet the 
course pursued by both nations in the Hispano- 
American War, and the propositions made by our 
delegates to the Peace Conference at The Hague 
in 1899, showed plainly enough that they had re- 
nounced old-time privateering. Privateering in 
its proper form, however exists to-day. The essen- 
tial feature of privateering is commerce destroying. 
Our commerce destroyers of the navy to-day, like the 
Columbia, Minneapolis, and Olympia, take the place of 
our early privateers, and are capable of doing the 
work far more effectively, while as we have seen 
in the case of the Olympia at; Manila they are 
equally efficient when needed f o the regular service. 

There are many well-meaning people in the 
United States who believe that the old style of pri- 

PREFACE. 1779-1813. 

vateering should be maintained. A few facts will 
show the fallacies of their arguments. One of the 
great defects in old-time privateering was lack of 
organization. Each ship was a free lance, at liberty 
to roam the seas as she willed, having no central 
organization or concert of movement. The Olympia, 
showed what commerce destroyers can do when 
properly governed. There are a few instances where 
our early privateers rendered assistance to the regu- 
lar navy; but then there are more instances where 
they were a positive hindrance. Had the Penobscot 
expedition in 1779 been organized with the Govern- 
ment vessels and privateers under one management, 
it might have resulted in a glorious victory instead 
of a disastrous defeat. 

There have been many instances of American pri- 
vateers running away from each other and throwing 
overboard their guns, under the impression that they 
were in the presence of an enemy, because there was 
no efficient code of signaling between the regular 
war craft and the privateers, or among the private 
armed craft themselves. In one case the American 
privateer Anaconda maintained a action with the 
United States cruiser Commodore Hull, Lieutenant 
Newcomb, near Boston, in which the American com- 
mander and several men were seriously wounded. 
On March 9, 1813, Master-Commandant Arthur Sin- 
clair, of the Argus, by mistake had an action with 
the privateer jFo#, Captain Jack, of Baltimore, in 
Chesapeake Bay. Sinclair says: " In consequence of 
silencing her I ceased my fire, believing that she had 
struck; but although she fired on me first, after 
being told who we were and never would answer 
who she was, yet so much did I fear that it was some 
of my imprudent, headstrong countrymen that I 
took every opportunity to spare her, and to try and 
find out who she w$s. I much fear they wore all 
lost, as she could not\ave a whole boat left, and we 
found pieces torn out o\her by our shot ten or twelve 


feet long on the shore the next morning. I judge 
her to be upward of two hundred tons by the 9J-inch 
cable and the seven-hundred or eight-hundred weight 
anchors we got next day. She was crowded with 
men, as we could see by the light of her guns. I 
was sure she would sink, as we were within one 
hundred and fifty yards of her and I pointed myself 
seven long 18-pounders, double and trebled shotted, 
just amidships between wind and water and could 
plainly hear the shots strike her." 1 

Many such instances could be cited to show that 
privateering as practiced in our early wars is unde- 
sirable. Commerce destroying, under the exclusive 
control of the navy, is the privateering of to-day, and 
in this form is a legitimate and most potent factor 
in warfare. 

In venturing upon a history of American priva- 
teers the author realizes that he has, in truth, en- 
tered upon a new and most difficult field of historical 
research. No complete record of American priva- 
teers has ever been published; the nearest ap- 
proach being Captain George CoggeshalPs History 
of American Privateers, which is limited to the oper- 
ations of our amateur cruisers in the War of 1812, 
and, aside from the highly interesting narrative of 
the part Captain Coggeshall played as commander 
of the David Porter and the Leo, is far short of a 
standard history. In writing his History of the 
United States Navy, the author had the official 
reports and other reliable records on which to base 
his work; but in attempting a history of American 
privateers he found himself entirely cut off from 
this solid basis, and was dependent on the frag- 
mentary and scattered records which are to be found 
in the periodicals of that day and on the private 
letters, logs, and traditions that have been pre- 
served by the descendants of^ur privateersmen. 

1 Sinclair, in a private letter. 

xxvi PREFACE. 1899. 

These valuable records have been scattered all over 
the United States, and had it not been for the gener- 
ous co-operation of the persons having them in their 
possession this work never could have been given 
in its present complete form. 

The author desires to acknowledge the assistance 
he has received in the preparation of this work from 
the Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge, United States Senator 
from Massachusetts; from Rear- Admiral Montgom- 
ery Sicard, U. S. N.; from Captain Arent Schuyler 
Crowninshield, U. S. N.; and from Eear- Admiral 
Francis John Higginson, U. S. N., and his cousin 
James J. Higginson, of New York. To Miss Annetta 
O'Brien Walker, a lineal descendant of Captain Jere- 
miah O'Brien of Revolutionary fame, the author is 
indebted for many valuable details concerning the 
first sea fight in the struggle for independence, which 
have thrown much light upon, and rectified some in- 
accuracies relative to, that memorable fight. In- 
teresting data bearing on our early privateersmen 
have been received from Bowden Bradlee Crownin- 
shield, of Boston; Charles Thomas Harbeck, of New 
York; Benjamin I. Cohen, of -Portland, Oregon; 
Samuel C. Clarke, of Marietta, Georgia; Thomas 
Wentworth Higginson, of Cambridge, Massachu- 
setts; Arthur Curtiss Stott, of Stottsville, New 
York; Edward Trenchard, of New York; Franklin 
Byre, of Philadelphia; Charles Albert Eazlett, of 
Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Otis Burr Dauehy, of 
Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Dodge, of Portsmouth, 
New Hampshire; John C. Crowninshield, of Andover, 
Massachusetts; W. H. Osborne, of Boston; and 
Judge Addison Brown; of New York. 

The officers of the following historical societies 
and libraries have given the author every possible aid 
in prosecuting his researches: John Robinson, Secre- 
tary of the Salem P^abody Academy of Science; Rob- 
ert S. Rantoul, President of the Essex Institute, 
Salem, Massachusetts^ William T, Peoples, of the 


Mercantile Library, New York; Amos Perry, Secre- 
tary of the Khode Island Historical Society; and Or- 
ville Burnell Ackerly, Secretary of the Suffolk His- 
torical Society, of Kiverhead, New York. Valuable 
records and suggestions have also been received from 
Professor Wilfred H. Munro, of Brown University, 
Providence, Ehode Island; Eipley Hitchcock, of 
New York; William Edward Silsbee, a grandson of 
Nathaniel Silsbee, who commanded the privateer 
Herald in her fight against the French letter of 
marque Gloire in 1800, and who afterward became 
a colleague of Daniel Webster in the United States 
Senate. The author will be glad to receive any fur- 
ther facts of interest bearing on our privateers for 
insertion in future editions of this work. 

E. S. M. 







Origin of privateering Its introduction in the United States First 
English privateersmen Exploits of Captain "Wright " Gentle- 
men sailors" Distribution of prize money Character of the 
early privateersmen Americans raise privateering to a higher 
plane Fleet sailing Development in private cruisers . . 8-31 



Daring of privateersmen Danger of private cruisers becoming top- 
heavy Enmity of British officers against privateersmen Pen- 
sioning privateersmen 22-27 



First American sea fight Little distinction between the early priva- 
teersmen and pirates Pirates in Charleston, South Carolina 
Steed Bonnett Buccaneers on the New England coast Captain 
William Kidd Murder of Lieutenant Hough by privateersmen 
in New York American privateers in the French war Many 
captures 28-42 




First overt acts of resistance to British authority in America on sea 
Demonstrations against the St. JbAn/and Liberty Attack on 




the GaapeThe " Boston Tea Party "Affair of the Margaretta 
Capture of that craft Subsequent careers of Jeremiah and 
John O'Brien Career of the Hannibal and Hioernia Washing- 
ton sends out cruisers Death of Major Mnzies Vessels seized 
by the English, 177^1776 ........ 43-68 



Careers of the Yankee and Yankee Hero First privateers from Mas- 
sachusettsMaryland and New York privateers Early essay of 
privateers from Pennsylvania Philadelphia builds gunboats 
Privateers from New Jersey and New Hampshire . . . 69-78 



Barney and Robinson go a-privateering The Pomona's hard fight 
Barry and Murray on private ventures Truxtun and Decatur 
also McNeil, Waters, Little, and Porter command privateers 79-90 



Early career of Talbot Daring attack on the Asia in a fireship At 
Fort Mifflin Building flatboats in Rhode Island Fitting out 
the Hawk Successful attempt against the Pigot Designs 
against the Renown, Remarkable success of the Argo Her 
many captures A desperate battle Talbot commands the Gen- 
eral WoMngton Captured Exchanged Return to Amer- 



Marvelous development of privateering The Hazard and Bunker 
Hill Careers of the Vengeance and General &ancoek~The Provi- 
dence, True American, and Black Prince > 113-119 



Building the Al6xcmdw**$wuring a complements Sherburne ships 
in tiie Greyhound A capture Detailed in the prize crew The 
prize recaptured Amon^a half-savage people Hardships as a 
prisoner-Sails in the Ductots of Cumberland Wreck of that 



cruiser Return to the old prison Sails for England in the 
Fairy Harsh treatment Captain Yeo's character In Old Mill 
Prison Return to America 120-129 


' THE WORK OP 1779. 

Reverses of our armies Successes on the high seas The General 
Arnold and the General Stark The Protector-Admiral Duff 

battle The Hilernia and Holker Fight against an Indiaman 

Taking a king's ship 180-187 



Haraden an ideal privateersman His career in the Tyrannicide 
Takes command of the General Pickering His "impudent" 
capture of the Golden Eagle Falls in with the Achilles Hara- 
den's skillful maneuver Holds his advantage over his antago- 
nistDrives off the Achilles and again captures the Golden 
JSagU Haraden's many prizes His singular summons to an 
English commander ........ 138-147 



Barney's capture by the English In the prison ships at New York 
His rough treatment by the townsfolk Great sufferings in the 
Yarmouth Arrival at Old Mill Prison Treatment at that place 
Determination to escape A ruse A bold dash for liberty 
Disguised as a fisherman Barney sails for France in an open boat ' 
Recaptured Return to Plymouth Again free Narrow es- 
cape from recognition A new disguise Travels to Exeter and 
thence to Holland Sails in the South CaroUna~-T$QX\j ship- 
wrecked Puts into Coruffa A mistaken attack on Spanish 
ships Return to America 148-166 



How Dr. Drowne's diary was preserved Sails in the Hope A fear- 
ful storm Distressing sickness Clear weather again A 20- 
000 prize A chase Dreadful suspense before battle The cap- 
tureFear of losing the prize Joy on 'regaining the home 
port - 167-176 

xxxii CONTENTS. 




Capture of the General Washmgton by the British Taken into their 
service as the General Monk Her valuable services under her 
new masters Philadelphia merchants fit out the Eyder Ally 
The General Monk attacks the Hyder Ally Barney's clever 
stratagem Irrelevant remarks of a Buck County " marine " 
Capture of the General Monk She is fitted out under her old 
name Barney commands her and sails on an important mission 
A night battle The enemy beaten off, but the General Wash- 
ington disabled Puts into Cape Francois and refits Loads with 
specie loaned to the United States and returns to Baltimore 177-191 



Manly's record Commands the privateer Cumberland- Captured and 
imprisoned Escapes, and, returning to America, commands the 
privateer Jason Dismasted in a gale when only a few days 
out Mutiny Manly's iron will Sails again Captures two 
British privateers Forms an impromptu squadron with other 
American cruisers at sea Lively struggle with a shark Battle 
with a frigate Captured Harsh treatment At Old Mill Prison 
Return to America , 192-204 



"Darkest hour" of the Revolution Activity on the high seas by 
our privateers Captures by the Pilgrim The Congrm-Sawgt 
battle Guerrilla boats Privateers acting in squadrons Brief 
summary of the privateers in the Revolution A talunte-Ante* 
lope fight in 1798 French attack on the Louisa in 1709 The 
Herald defeats a French privateer in Bengal Bay, 1800 

THE WAR OF 18m. 


Fitting out privateers Capture of the first British cruisers, the 
Whiting and Bloodhound The Black Joke and Jack's Favorit* 

CONTENTS. xxxiii 


Repulse of the Indian?* boats Cruises of the Madison and 
Gossamer Recapture of the Nervma Career of the Fame and 
Jfc?pM 225-241 


Illicit trade with the enemy Captain Bray, of the Plumper Case of 
the Margaret Captain Burdett's insolence Legal opinions on 
"licensed vessels "Prizes by the revenue cutter Madison Ex- 
plosion in the Gallatin 243-250 



Clever seizure of the Tulip Capture of the Pursuit and Planter 
Active operations of the Governor TompkinaTSaxiow escape 
from capture The Anaconda by mistake attacks the Comwh 
dore .Hw// British boats attack the Anaconda and Atlas Cap- 
ture of the Americans Brilliant careers of the Scourge and 
Rattlesnake 251-264 



Fitting out the Yankee Valuable captures in her first and second 
cruises Raiding West African ports Action with the Thames 
Battle with a Spaniard A $600,000 prize Sixth cruise of the 
Yankee Fitting out the True Blooded Yankee in France She 
causes great havoc in English waters Finally captured Brief 
essays of the Yankee Lass and Yankee American Other priva- 
teers sent out from Little Rhody 265-278 



An ideal privateersman His first cruise in the (70me Speedy cap- 
tures Battle with an officious Portuguese cruiser off Pernam- 
buco Victory for the Americans Hard chase by a British man- 
of-war A trick that Boyle detected A humorous chase Boyle 
commands the Chasseur His "superb audacity" Boyle de- 
clares all England "blockaded He worries the West Indian mer- 
chantsHis remarkable action with thtf cruiser St. Lawrence 
A battle royal Victory . i 279-800 





Barney in the Sampson Robbed by an English privateer -His ves- 
sel seized Recaptures her Again captured Brutal treatment 
A farcical charge of " piracy "Barney is liberated Attacked 
by a ruffian in the streetRowley's despicable conduct Barney 
enters the French navy and becomes a commodore In the War 
of 1812 commands the American privateer Home Detention by 
a sheriff A cruise of remarkable success .... 301-807 



Three Decaturs in the privateer service One chased by the Consti- 
tution The third Decatw sails from Charleston Meets the Do- 
mwwcoThe battle A desperate struggle Final victory of the 
Americans This action compared with the regular sloop actions 
of the war Kindness of the Americans to their prisoners . 308-319 



Craft sent out from Norfolk Career of the Roger Privateers of Wil- 
mington, North Carolina New Orleans fits out amateur cruisers 
Five sent out from Savannah Career of the Hazard, of 
Charleston Other privateers from that port Great success of 
the Saucy Jack A rich prise Battle with the transports Ool- 
den Fleece and JBaldhoo 820-327 



Several privateers bearing this name Her first venture A "terrible 
scourge" Many seizures-Capture of the ^ttjoteto Curious 
cargoesBattle with the English privateer #/wafa^Total 
value of the America's prizes ....... 828-335 



The David Porter cleverly eludes the blockading squadron-^Chasod 
by the British off Charleston Takes in a cargo A bold dash 
for the open se<ir-A terrific storm in the Bay of Biscay The 
David Porter nearly founders Captain Coggotthair fine sea* 



chances to escape a British frigate Second chase by the same 
frigate An adroit evasion Safe arrival at Tile d'Yeu . 336-849 



Critical position of American privateers in French ports in April, 
1814 Advance of the allied armies and blockades by British 
fleets Pitting out the Leo for Captain Coggeshall She sails 
Chased by a war brig Heavy weather Prizes The Leo nearly 
dismasted Driven under the guns of a frigate Captured 
Kind treatment Prisoners taken to Gibraltar Coggeshall's 
wonderful escape 350-358 



At Melville Island Inhuman treatment Hard condition of our 
privateersmen in Jamaica and Barbadoes A perilous escape 
from Bermuda Harsh treatment at Kingston " Floating Hells " 
in England A striking contrast Situation of Dartmoor Prison 
A kind English surgeon A bold dash for liberty Treachery 
The second attempt successful The Dartmoor massacre A 
brutal official 859-376 



Preparing the Prince de Neueh&tel as a privateer Her many valu- 
able captures in English waters Captain Ordronaux an able 
commander The scene off Nantucket Shoals The Prince de 
Neuch&tel meets the frigate Endymion British make a boat 
attack Desperate encounter with the Americans Dreadful 
slaughter Final repulse of the English Embarrassed by many 
prisoners Return to Boston The Prince de Neuch&tel sails 
again A terrific storm A negligent officer Chased by Sir 
George Collier's squadron Dastardly attempt to blow up the 
ship Captured American tars in the LecwderA. battle of 
songs Final discomfiture of the prisoners .... 377-890 



A formidable privateer Her first venturer Daring raids in Eng- 
lish waters "Waiting for the enemy Off Pernambuco -Nearly 

xxxvi CONTENTS. 


trapped A hard chase Final escape A square yardarm fight 
Return to port 301-400 



A council of war at La Rochelle Determination to put to sea Au- 
dacious capture of the transport Mary Harbor blocked by a 
powerful British fleet The Ida's bold dash The English give 
chase At close quarters Extraordinary escape of the Ida The 
long chase at sea The pursuers finally eluded . , . 401-407 



Unique position of Salem in American ship lore Importance of her 
commerce Many privateers sent out "Little boats should 
keep near shore "Careers of the Active and Alfred The mis- 
named Thrasher and Terrible Losses by shipwreck Remark- 
able adventures of the Invincible Napoleon The Nancy and 
Frolic Receipts from sale of prizes The Cadet and Charles 
Stewart 408-419 



The Kemp attacks a merchant fleet A clever ruse A stubborn con- 
testSuccessful career of the Caroline Many captures The 
Mammoth puts to sea Many prizes in one cruise . , . 420-426 



Success of the Shadow Action with the May The Globe fights the 
JBoyd The Globe's many prizes Checkered career of the Ma- 
tilda Battle between the Ned and the Malvina A desperate 
struggle between the Saratoga and the Rachel Captain Wilson 
of the Macdonough attacks an unknown stranger . . . 427-488 



Captures by the JBenfamin Franklin Careers of the Mars, Morgi- 
ana, and Eolkar Exploits of the Invincible, Jonguille, and Ma~ 

CONTENTS. xxrvii 


rengo Orders in Council and Rosamond take prizes The catas- 
trophe in the Teaser Valorous exploit of the " Noble Seventy " 




Difficulties in capturing packet ships The Twonsend taken by the 
Tom Action between the Highflyer and Bwchall -Night at- 
tack on the Highflyer Action between the Saratoga and Mor- 
giomor Desperate encounter between the Globe and an English 
packet ship The Harpy captures the Turkish ambassador- 
British acknowledgments of American humanity . . . 450-461 



Action between the Diligent and the J&owro The Lottery's gallant 
defense against English boats Remarkable career of the Dol- 
phin Her heroic fight against British boats Other Dolphins 
in this war The JSagle makes an "impudent" seizure The 
Montgomery repels an English attack Under the enemy's guns 
The Syren-Landrail fight 463-473 



The Revenge and Rolla put to sea Exploits of the Sarah Ann and 
the Expedition The Saline and Baltimore make prizes 
" Hardy must be a noble fellow "Doings of the York and Perry 
The xebec Ultor Services of the fiJee and Lawrence Careers 
of the Amelia, Syren, and Whig . . ' . . . . 478-483 



Action of the General Armstrong off the Surinam River Under the 
enemy's guns A desperate struggle Many prizes taken by this 
famous privateer Champlin commands the Warrior A clever 
stratagem His return to port with a rich cargo . . . 484-490 



Captain Reid commands the General Armstrong Mading the block- 
ading squadron Playing at "long balls" with an English 

xxxviii CONTENTS. 


cruiser Reid's audacity Arrival in the port of flayal Confer- 
ence with the American consul Approach of the English squad- 
ronBritish boats advance to attack Spirited defense of the 
General J.rafr0w# Repulse of the enemy The second attack 
A sanguinary fight The losses on both sides Comparison of 
this battle with the frigate actions of the war Reid's reception 
on his return home 491-502 



American privateering limited to our two wars with Great Britain 
Declaration of Paris in 1856 Jefferson Davis issues letters of 
marque Confederate privateers Cases of the Jeff Davis, JSeaur 
regard, Judah, and Saiwmali Sinking of the Petrel Summary 
of privateering in the Revolution and in the War of 1812 Our 
gallant privateersmen after the war 503-507 



Overawing the enemy. By George Gibbs . . . Frontispiece 
The pirates fought with the ferocity of despair. By George 

Gibbs Facing 84 

Captain Abraham Whipple . . 47 

The affair of the Q-aspt Facing 49 

The "Boston Tea Party" 51 

Birthplace of Colonel Jeremiah O'Brien, near Machias, Maine . . 52 
O'Brien's Brook, near Machias, Maine, where the patriots held their 

secret meetings 54 

Edward Preble 60 

Silhouette of Colonel Jehu Eyre, of the Philadelphia firm of ship- 
builders 76 

Joshua Barney 79 

John Barry 84 

Thomas Truxtun 87 

Stephen Decatur 88 

David Porter 90 

Esek Hopkins 91 

Silas Talbot 98 

Scene of Captain Silas Talbot's exploits in Ehode Island waters . 96 

Scene of Captain Talbot's cruises 104 

Instructions to privateers, 1776 Facing 182 

Barney's escape from Mill Prison. By George Gibbs . . Facing 154 

Joseph Peabody 213 

The President's letter of marque to the privateer Herald . Facing 218 
Eescue of the British cruiser Cornwallis from the French privateer 

La Gloire by American merchantmen .... Facing 220 

Captain Silsbee 221 

Certificate of membership in the Salem Marine Society . Facing 288 

Map of Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds 260 

Capture of the British cruiser St. Lawrence by the United States 

privateer Chasseur Facing 298 

Facsimile of a page in the America's log kept during her third 

cruise Facing 383 

The America, owned by George Orowmjishield & Sons, the most 

noted Salem privateer . . . 335 




Dartmoor Prison, where many American prisoners were confined . 368 

Scene of the Grand Turk's operations 394 

Entrance to the harbor of La Rochelle, France . . . Facing 403 

Crowninshield's Wharf, Salem, Mass., in 1812 . . . Facing 410 

Battle between the schooner Saratoga and the brig Rachel Facing 436 

Certificate of shares in the privateer Warrior . . . Facing 487 

Samuel Reid 494 

The United States sailing frigate St. Lawrence sinking the Confed- 
erate privateer Petrel Facing 503 

For the use of the three Illustrations by Mr. George Glbbs mentioned in this list 
Messrs, D. Appleton and Company desire to acknowledge the courtesy of the Curtis 
Publishing Company, publishers of the Saturday Evening Post. Acknowledgment should 
also be made to Charles T. Earbeck, Esq., for his loans of rare prints and documents. 





THERE seems to be much confusion in the minds 
of some people as to what a privateer is. With many, 
Government cruisers, privateers, and even pirates, 
have been classed under one head namely, a vessel 
intended for fighting; and, as will be seen in the chap- 
ter on Colonial Privateers, there was a time when 
there was little to distinguish the privateer from 
the rover of the sea. In some instances, notably that 
of Captain Kidd, officers of the Royal Navy turned 
to piracy. In one of the first records we have of 
privateering, that in which a ship belonging to Sir 
Thomas Stanley, son of the Earl of Derby, brought 
a prize into the Mersey amid " great rejoicing," the 
opinion was expressed that, after all, the capture 
might have been an act of piracy. 

Mr. Pepys, who is a recognized authority on 
matters pertaining to the early history of the British 
navy, notes: "The Constant-Warwick was the first 
frigate built in England. She was built in 1649 by 
Mr. Peter Pett for a privateer for the Earl of War- 
wick, and was sold by him to the States. Mr. Pett 
took his model of a frigate from a French frigate 
which he had seen in the Thames; as his son, Sir 
Phineas Pett, acknowledged." This admission, taken 
in connection with the fact just noted namely, that 
the son of the Earl of Derby owned a privateer- 
would seem to indicate that the British peerage, if not 
the originators of the practice of privateering, were at 


least deeply engaged in it at this time. The Constant- 
Warwick was a formidable craft for her day. She 
measured about four hundred tons and carried 
twenty-six guns, divided as follows: Eighteen light 
demi-culverins, or short 10-pounders, on the main 
deck; six light sakers, or short 5-pounders, and two 

It was not very long before the American colonies 
had secured their independence of Great Britain that 
privateering had come into vogue as a recognized 
profession. During the reign of George II privateers 
began to play a prominent part in the sea power of 
England, and then the Britons seem to have been 
driven to it only because of the disastrous activity 
displayed by their Continental rivals. On the out- 
break of the Seven-Years War, 1756, French priva- 
teers hovered about the coasts of Great Britain and 
almost annihilated her commerce, that of Liverpool 
being especially exposed. French privateers found 
their way into the Irish Sea, and at one time actually 
blockaded the port of Liverpool, then England's 
greatest shipping center. Insurance rose to prohib- 
itive rates, while trade was at a standstill. The 
" black ivory " trade at that time had been especially 
profitable and the British merchant had the alterna- 
tive of sitting idly with folded hands or engaging in 
the same amateur warfare that his French brother 
was so vigorously waging. Acting with his usual 
energy, when once the plan was decided upon, the 
British merchant not only equipped his useless 
traders as armed cruisers, but began the construction 
of many swift-sailing vessels designed especially for 
privateering. These craft were sent out, and not 
only succeeded in making it dangerous for the enemy 
to venture near the coast, but captured a large num- 
ber of merchantmen. 

One of the first of these privateers to leave Liver- 
pool returned in a few weeks with a French West 
Indiaman as a prize, which was computed to be 


worth twenty thousand pounds. Other captures of 
equal value quickly followed; and "then," records 
an English writer, " the whole country became mad 
after privateering and the mania even spread to the 
colonies" meaning America. Certain it is that 
about this time privateering became extremely ac- 
tive in these colonies. On the whole, however, the 
Liverpool merchant was opposed to this kind of war- 
fare. It was strictly as a business venture that he 
was induced to engage in it, in the first instance; for, 
notwithstanding the fact that his privateersmen were 
eminently successful, having taken in the first four 
years one hundred and forty-three prizes, he found 
that the final results were disastrous to trade. When 
the war with the Americas colonies broke out the 
British merchant was loath to resort to privateering, 
and while the Americans were sending out dozens of 
these craft the Liverpool people did little. In fact, 
it was not till the French had joined in the war that 
the Liverpool merchant bestirred himself in this line 
the only paying occupation left to him. 

One of the most celebrated of Liverpool's priva- 
teersmen was Captain Fortunatus Wright. As early 
as 1744, shortly after the outbreak of the war with 
France, this man, with the assistance of some Eng- 
lish merchants residing in Leghorn, fitted out a 
privateer, which they called the Fame, for the pur- 
pose of preying on the enemy's commerce. Accord- 
ing to the Gentleman's Magazine of 1776 the Fame, 
while under the command of Captain Wright, cap- 
tured sixteen French ships in the Levant, the cargoes 
and craft being valued at four hundred thousand 

When, in 1756, the merchants of Liverpool deter- 
mined to go into privateering on their own account, 
Wright was again at Leghorn. Believing a re- 
newal of hostilities with France to be inevitable, he 
caused a small vessel, which he called the St. George, 
to be built and fitted out for the express purpose 


of cruising against the enemy. His plans became 
known to the French, and a xebec mounting sixteen 
guns was stationed at the entrance of the harbor to 
nip his mischievous project in the bud. As the xebec 
carried a complement of two hundred and eighty 
men, which was more than Wright could hope to 
bring together, the chances of his getting to sea were 
small, especially as it was well known that the 
French king had promised a reward of three thou- 
sand livres a year for life, the honor of knighthood, 
and the command of a sloop of war to whomsoever 
brought this particular Wright, dead or alive, into 
France. The prodigality of these offers for the 
head of the doughty Englishman is sufficient evi- 
dence of the vast amount of harm he had occasioned 
French commerce. 

Stimulated by the prospect of these glittering 
rewards, the people in the xebec maintained a suc- 
cessful watch on the St. George. At that time the 
Tuscan Government was in sympathy with that of 
France, and it added to the critical position of Wright 
by insisting that he must leave port with no more 
than four guns and twenty-five men. In keeping with 
these instructions Wright sailed from Leghorn, July 
25, 1756, in the St. George, having in company three 
small merchantmen. When clear of the harbor he 
took on board eight guns which he had concealed in 
his convoys. Wright also had induced some fifty-five 
volunteers, consisting for the most part of Slavoni- 
ans, Venetians, Italians, Swiss, and a few English- 
men, to enter his convoys in the same way, and they 
also were transferred to the St. George. With this 
armament and complement he awaited the attack of 
the xebec. 

The action was begun about noon in full view of 
thousands of spectators, nearly all of them sympa- 
thizers of the French. In three quarters of an hour 
the xebec had her commander, lieutenant, and eighty- 
eight men killed, some seventy more wounded, and 


the ship herself was so cut up that the survivors were 
glad to make their escape toward the shore. Wright 
had only five men killed, one of them his lieutenant, 
and eight wounded. The result of this action so 
angered the Tuscan authorities that they seized the 
St. George, and in all probability would have detained 
her indefinitely had not Admiral Hawke, with two 
ships of the line, appeared off Leghorn shortly after- 
ward and brought them into a more friendly state of 
mind. In March of the following year Wright was 
lost at sea while on a voyage from Leghorn to Malta. 

The privateer, as understood at the outbreak of 
the war for American independence, was a ship 
armed and fitted out at private expense for the pur- 
pose of preying on the enemy's commerce to the profit 
of her owners, and bearing a commission, or letter of 
marque, authorizing her to do so, from the Govern- 
ment. Usually the Government claimed a portion of 
the money realized from the sales of prizes and their 
cargoes. The owners, of course, had the lion's share, 
though a considerable portion was divided among the 
officers and crew as an additional incentive to secur- 
ing prizes. In fact, it was this division of the spoils, 
rather than the wages, that induced many of our best 
seamen to enter this peculiarly dangerous service. It 
frequently happened that even the common sailors 
received as their share, in one cruise, over and above 
their wages, one thousand dollars a small fortune 
in those days for a mariner. 

This opportunity to get rich suddenly gave rise 
to a peculiar class of seamen, who became known as 
" gentlemen sailors." All seaports sending out priva- 
teers were thronged with these tars of exalted degree, 
and, in many cases, of long pedigree. Usually they 
were of highly respectable parentage, and in some in- 
stances belonged to well-known families. They went 
to sea, not as common seamen, but as adventurers to 
whom the chances of making prize money were suffi- 
cient inducement to undergo the -hardships and perils 


of the sea. Being better educated and well trained 
to the use of arms especially excelling the ordinary 
sailor in the latter accomplishment they were wel- 
comed in the privateer, and the commander was glad 
to give them unusual privileges. They were not 
assigned to the ordinary work of the seaman, but 
formed a sort of a marine guard, standing between 
the officers and the regular crew. This arrangement 
came to be understood when the " gentleman sailor " 
shipped. The common seamen were to do the real 
drudgery of ship work, while these privileged tars 
were to be on hand when fighting was to be done. 

It seems that the " gentlemen sailors " were not 
confined to the male sex, for when our schooner 
Revenge was captured by the British privateer Belle 
Poole the American prisoners were ordered to Ports- 
mouth prison, upon which one of the prisoners an- 
nounced "himself" to be a woman. Her love for 
adventure had induced her to don male attire, and 
she had been serving many months without her sex 
having been known. 

The officers and crews of our Government war 
ships also received a proportion of the money re- 
sulting from taking a prize, and even when they 
failed to bring the vessel to port, and in some cases 
where they lost their own ship, they received their 
share of prize money. According to a law made April 
13, 1800, the following rule for distribution of prize 
money was made for Government cruisers: " When 
the prize is of equal or superior force to the ves- 
sel making the capture, it shall be the sole prop- 
erty of the captors. If of inferior force, it shall be 
divided equally between the United States and the 
officers and men making the capture." The act regu- 
lates the proportion in which the officers and men 
shall divide the prize money. "All public ships in 
sight at the time of making prize shall share equally. 
Twenty dollars to Re paid by the United States for 
each person on board an enemy's ship at the com- 


mencement of an engagement which shall be burned, 
sunk, or destroyed by any United States vessel of 
equal or inferior force. All prize money accruing to 
the United States is solemnly pledged as a fund for 
payment of pensions and half pay should the same be 
hereafter granted. If this fund be insufficient, the 
faith of the United States is pledged for the defi- 
ciency; if more than sufficient, the surplus is to go to 
the comfort of disabled mariners, or such as may de- 
serve the gratitude of their country." 

By an act made June 26, 1812, the prize money 
from captures made by private armed craft was to 
go only to their owners, the officers and crew, " to be 
distributed according to any written engagement be- 
tween them; and, if there be none, then one moiety 
to the owners, and the other to the officers and crew. 
Two per cent, on the net amount of the prizes to be 
paid over to the collectors as a fund for widows and 
orphans and disabled seamen." The Government 
also paid twenty dollars bounty for every man in the 
captured vessel at the beginning of the engagement. 

Congress voted fifty thousand dollars to the offi- 
cers and crew of the Constitution when they captured 
the Guerri&re, and the same amount when she took 
the Java, notwithstanding the fact that each craft 
was destroyed at sea. The same sum was given to the 
captors of the Macedonian. The rule for distributing 
prize money in the navy was to divide the total 
amount into twenty equal parts. Where the sum was 
fifty thousand dollars the result was as follows: Three 
parts, or seven thousand five hundred dollars, to the 
captain; two parts, or five thousand dollars, to the 
sea lieutenants and sailing master; two parts, or 
five thousand dollars, to the marine officers, sur- 
geon, purser, boatswain, gunner, carpenter, mas- 
ter's mates, and chaplain; three parts, or seven 
thousand five hundred dollars, to the midshipmen, 
surgeon's mates, captain's clerk, schoolmaster, boat- 
swain's mates, steward, sailmaker, master-at-arms, 


armorer, and coxswain; three parts, or seven thou- 
sand five hundred dollars, to the gunner's yeomen, 
boatswain's yeomen, quartermasters, quarter gun- 
ners, coopers, sailmaker's mates, sergeants and cor- 
porals of the marines, drummer, fifer, and extra petty 
officers; seven parts, or seventeen thousand five 
hundred dollars, to the seamen, ordinary seamen 
marines, and boys. As the last item, seventeer 
thousand five hundred dollars, was divided amonj 
some two hundred men and boys, it gave abow 
eighty-seven dollars to each man, or nearly an equiva 
lent to a year's wages. To the commander, whose pa; 
varied from six hundred dollars to twelve hundre< 
dollars, the sum of seven thousand five hundre 
dollars was a snug fortune. Each of the sea Her 
tenants got a little less than one thousand dollars 
their regular pay being four hundred and eight 

In case of actions between sloops of war Congres 
generally allowed twenty-five thousand dollars to 01 
officers and crews if victorious, even in the case < 
Master-Commandant Jacob Jones, where he lost n< 
only his prize, the Frolic, but his own ship. For tl 
battle of Lake Erie Captain Chauncey, being tl 
superior officer on the Great Lakes although takii 
no part in the action received twelve thousand sev< 
hundred and fifty dollars; Master-Communda 
Perry, twelve thousand one hundred and forty d< 
lars, his pay being only seven hundred and twcn 
dollars; Master-Commandant Elliott, seven thonsa; 
one hundred and forty dollars; each commander 
a gunboat, lieutenant, sailing master, and lieutemi 
of marines, two thousand two hundred and nine 
five dollars; each midshipman, eight hundred a 
eleven dollars, the pay of a midshipman being 01 
two hundred and twenty-eight dollars; each pei 
officer, four hundred and forty-seven dollars; E 
rines and sailors each two hundred and nine dolla 
These, however, were comparatively msignifkj 

1779-181S. ENOBMOUS PROFITS. 11 

instances of prize moneys. In a cruise lasting only 
a few weeks in 1779 the United States cruisers, Queen 
of France, Captain John P. Eathbourne; the Prom- 
dence, Captain Abraham Whipple, who was in com- 
mand in the first overt act of resistance against Brit- 
ish authority in America; and the Ranger, Captain 
William Simpson, brought eight merchantmen into 
Boston, their cargoes being valued at over a million 
dollars. One of the boys in the Ranger, fourteen years 
old, who less than a month before had left a farm 
to ship in this cruiser, received as his share one ton 
of sugar, from thirty to forty gallons of fourth proof 
Jamaica rum, some twenty pounds of cotton, and 
about the same quantity of ginger, logwood, and all- 
spice, besides seven hundred dollars in money. In 
many instances during the War of 1812 American 
cruisers took prizes valued at. over a million dollars. 
The Chesapeake has been credited with being one of 
the unlucky cruisers in that war, yet in the cruise just 
before her meeting with the Shannon she captured one 
ship, the Volunteer, the cargo of which was valued 
at seven hundred thousand dollars; and in the same 
cruise she took the Ellen, whose cargo was sold in 
Boston for seventeen thousand five hundred and sixty 
dollars. The little sloop Peacock, Master-Commandant 
Lewis Warrington, in one cruise took prizes valued 
at six hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars. 

The Government usually allowed a bounty for 
each prisoner brought into port. This bounty 
amounted to about twenty dollars a head, but in 
most cases the privateersman preferred to rid him- 
self of prisoners at the earliest possible moment. 
There were several reasons for this. Even had the 
bounty been as high as one hundred dollars a man, it 
would not have paid the successful privateersman to 
accumulate prisoners, especially when on a long voy- 
age and there could be no telling how long a cruise 
would last for the cost of feeding amounted to a 
large sum. Then the danger of having too many 

1 b* - - - 


prisoners was shown dozens of times when the cap- 
tured rose on their captors, and not only recovered 
their own vessel, but made prisoners of the priva 
teersmen. On August 2, 1813, a law was enacted 
providing a bounty of twenty-five dollars on eacl 

The first and greatest element of success with * 
privateersman was audacity. Without that, abov< 
all other things, he was doomed to ignominious fail 
ure. The regular man-of-warsman might go an< 
come on his cruises without meeting an enemy o 
taking a prize and yet suffer little in the estimatio: 
of the department. In fact, in our first essays agains 
the mistress of the ocean, both at the time of th 
Revolution and in the War of 1812, the naval con 
mander who put to sea and regained port with 
whole skin was regarded, by our then overtimi 
naval administrators, as being a singularly fortunat 
and capable officer. Not so with a privateersmai 
To return to port empty-handed was to commit tl 
greatest sin of the profession. Hence we find th<* 
the privateersman was preeminently a bold and da 
ing man, and when such qualities were combine 
with skillful seamanship we have the ideal priv 

A good illustration of the "audacious imp 
dence" of our privateersmen is had in the case 
the Paul Jones, of New York. This vessel put to s< 
at the outbreak of the War of 1812 with a comp] 
ment of one hundred and twenty men, but with on 
three guns. Almost her first prize was the heavi 
armed British merchantman //am*?., carrying fo\ 
teen guns and a crew of twenty men, white li 
cargo was worth some two hundred thousand clolla 
The Paul Jones, though carrying only three gun, ^ 
pierced for seventeen. It is said that the comtnanc 
of the Paul Jones sawed off some spare masts to t 
length of guns, painted them black, and, bei 
mounted on buckets, rolled them out of hia 


ports as effective imitations of heavy ordnance. Then 
filling his rigging with his superfluous force of men, 
so far overawed the enemy that they surrendered 
as soon as the privateer, with her dummy guns, got 
fairly alongside. The Americans then helped them- 
selves to such of the Hassan's guns and ammunition 
as they needed and went on their way rejoicing. 

The English privateersmen of 1778 are described 
by one of their countrymen of that period as " a reck- 
less, dreadnaught, dare-devil collection of human 
beings, half disciplined, but yet ready to obey every 
order. The service was popular; the men shipping 
in privateers, being safe from impressment, the most 
dashing and daring of the sailors came out of their 
hiding holes to enter in them. Your true privateers- 
man was a sort of half horse, half alligator, with 
a streak of lightning in his composition something 
like a man-of-warsman, but much more like a pirate 
with a superabundance of whisker, as if he held, 
with Samson, that his strength was in the quantity 
of his hair." So far as the " dare-devil " and " dread- 
naught " qualities of this description go, they fit the 
American privateersmen well enough; but so far as 
the " whisker," " half horse, half alligator," and " pi- 
rate " parts of it are concerned the author is satis- 
fied that they are widely shy of the mark. We can 
readily believe, however, after reading the following 
account of a battle between an English and a French 
privateer, published over a century ago, that the fore- 
going description of the British privateersman is not 
overdrawn: "December 23, 1777, Captain Death, of 
the privateer Terrible, of London, was killed in an 
engagement with the Vengeance, a privateer of St. 
Malo. The annals of mankind can not show an 
effort of more desperate courage than was exerted 
under the command of Captain Death. He had in 
the beginning of his cruise made a prize of a rich 
merchantman with which he was returning to Eng- 
land in triumph when he had the fortune to fall in 



with the Vengeance, much his superior in force, thirty- 
six to twenty-six guns. The Terrible's prize was soon 
taken and converted against her; but so unequally 
matched, Captain Death maintained a furious en- 
gagement. The French captain and his second in 
command were killed with two thirds of his com- 
pany, but much more dreadful was the slaughter 
on board the TerriUe. When the enemy boarded 
they only found one scene of slaughter, silence and 
desolation. Of two hundred men only sixteen were 
found remaining, and the ship so shattered as scarce- 
ly to be kept above water. The following are the re- 
markable names of the officers of the TerriUe: Captain 
Death, Lieutenants Spirit and Ghost, Boatswain 
Butcher, Quartermaster Debbie; launched out of 
Execution Dock, London." 

In general, the conduct of American privateers- 
men on the high seas was most commendable. 
They showed themselves to be not only daring, but 
gentlemanly. When the schooner Industry, Captain 
Eenneaux, a prize to the privateer Benjamin Franklin, 
Captain Ingersol, of New York, reached that port, 
August 24, 1812, it was learned that the craft be- 
longed to a widow whose only dependence was on 
the earnings of that vessel. Although the Industry 
had two thousand dollars' worth of goods aboard, 
the Americans restored her and her cargo to the 
widow. Many of our privateersmen were men en- 
gaged in the Newfoundland fisheries, and a hardier 
or more daring set of men would be difficult to 
find. An American periodical, of the date August 8, 
1812, notes: "About thirty fishing vessels have ar- 
rived at Marblehead (Mass.), from the Banks within 
a few days, and only three remained absent. These 
hardy and patriotic citizens will generally become 
fishers of ships." 

Soon after the outbreak of the War of 1812, Niles, 
in his Register, notes: "The enemies of the United 
States have used many efforts to discredit the busi- 


ness of privateering in proclaiming, magnifying 
reiterating, under many new shapes, any eno 
that may have been committed by any of our p: 
armed vessels, and some must be expected. I 
confounds these wretches, and affords great sat 
tion to the people at large, to observe that our ] 
teers, in general, have conducted themselves 
remarkable propriety, in many cases receivinj 
public thanks of the captured. We trust this 
name will be sustained, though the enemy, thi 
his friends here, may strive to blast it." 

The humanity of Americans who were eng 
in the " business of privateering " early in the 
tury is amusingly brought out in a notice T> 
appeared in a London paper, published in Decei 
1814: "Mr. Editor: You will please a great nu: 
of your readers in Great Britain, who are zealo 
spreading the Divine Gospel all over the eart] 
showing them that there are some American 
zens who are willing to unite with us in sending 
sionaries to all parts of the globe. The Rev. Mr. 
son read the following note, which was transm 
to him by one of his brethren in Wales: 'A 
weeks since a trading vessel laden with corn [wl 
from Cardigan, in Wales, was taken in the chann 
an American privateer. When the captain ol 
latter entered the cabin to survey the prize he ei 
a small box with a hole in the top similar to 
which tradesmen have in their counters thr< 
which they drop their money on which the w 
"Missionary box" were inscribed. On seeing 
the American captain seemed not a little astou: 
and addressed the Welsh captain as follows: 

" ' " Captain, what is this? " pointing to the 
with his stick. 

" ' " Oh," replied the honest Cambrian, heavi 
sigh, " 'tis all over now." 

< " What? " said the American captain, 

" < " Why, the truth is," said th^ Welshman, " 


I and my poor fellows have been accustomed every 
Monday morning to drop a penny each into that box 
for the purpose of sending out missionaries to preach 
the Gospel to the heathen; but it is all over now." 

"< "Indeed," answered the American captain, 
" that is very good," 

" ' After pausing a few minutes he said: " Captain, 
I'll not hurt a hair of your head, nor touch your ves- 
sel," and he immediately departed, leaving the owner 
to pursue his course to his destined port.' " 

That all the religious qualities of American priva- 
teersmen were not confined to skippers from New 
York is seen in the following account of the capture 
of the brig Falcon by the America: " Among the goods 
of the valuable prize brig Falcon sent into Bath by the 
America of Salem were about nine hundred Bibles 
in the English and Dutch languages and five hun- 
dred Testaments forwarded for distribution at the 
Cape of Good Hope by the British and Foreign Bible 
Society. The Messrs. Crowninshield, to whom the 
privateer belonged, permitted a purchase of them to 
be made by the Bible Society of Massachusetts at a 
price hardly sufficient to legalize the sale s,ay about 
twenty cents to the pound sterling. The conduct of 
those gentlemen is highly spoken of in the Eastern 

Another instance of the gallantry of the American 
privateersman is had in the following: 

A Mrs. Elizabeth Bell, of Nova Scotia, happened 
to be a passenger in the schooner Ann, Captain Kelly, 
of Halifax, when captured by the American priva- 
teer Dolphin, Captain Endicott. Beaching Salem 
Mrs. Bell caused a notice to be published in a news- 
paper acknowledging " with much gratitude the gen- 
tlemanly and humane treatment of the captain and 
prize master of the Dolphin in returning to her nine 
hundred dollars, together with her personal effects." 

A still more forcible illustration of the humanity 
of American privaleersmen is had early in 1782, when 

1782-1814, "FLEET SAILIHGK" 17 

the private armed sloop Lively, Captain D. Adams, of 
Massachusetts, rescued the officers and crew of the 
British frigate Blonde which had been wrecked on a 
barren and desolate island. The treatment which 
all American prisoners, and especially privateers- 
men, had received at the hands of the British would 
have almost justified the commander of the Lively in 
leaving these shipwrecked mariners to their fate. 
But the American jack tar is a generous fellow, and 
nothing appeals so strongly to his compassion as a 
fellow-seaman in distress, and on this occasion the 
people of the Lively extended every assistance to their 
enemies and brought them safely into port. 

-So widespread had become the practice of priva- 
teering that by the outbreak of the Revolution Brit- 
ish merchantmen had two, and only two, well-defined 
methods of going to sea: First as a part of a fleet con- 
voyed by a suitable force of war ships, or as strongly 
armed " running ships." Fleet sailing with the Brit- 
ish was the favorite practice and grew to enormous 
proportions, a fleet of one hundred merchantmen not 
being unusual, and it is recorded that as many as six 
hundred have sailed at one time. On some occasions 
several months were spent in collecting the fleet at 
a port convenient to the English or Irish Channels 
generally at Portsmouth or Dublin and on a 
stated day they sailed for the East or West Indies, 
escorted by a number of war ships. 

Of course, in the case of such a large fleet sailing 
its departure and destination were widely advertised 
in England several months before, so that American 
agents had every opportunity to inform their friends 
across the Atlantic of the facts. The result was that 
as soon as a fleet sailed American cruisers or priva- 
teers were in waiting on the course the fleet must 
take, and were ready to pounce upon any stray mer- 
chantman that had the ill-luck to be separated from 
the convoy. If it was a large fleet, the flagship of the 
convoy usually was a line of battle ship commanded 


by an admiral, and was accompanied by one or two 
frigates and a number of sloops of war or brigs. If a 
small fleet, a frigate with one or two sloops of war 
was considered sufficient. When ready for sea the 
admiral signaled for all commanders to come aboard, 
when written instructions or " sailing orders " were 
given as to the meaning of the various signals that 
might be used in the course of the voyage, and also 
such other information as might conduce to their 

On leaving port the flagship usually took the lead, 
and was known as the vanship, while a fast-sail- 
ing frigate took her position in the rear so as to tow 
up any dull-sailing merchantman that otherwise 
might be left behind. The sloops and brigs of war did 
guard duty on each flank. One of the most rigid 
rules of fleet sailing was that no merchantman 
should go ahead of the vanship, which vessel was 
to be constantly watched for signals. Another 
equally rigid rule, and the one most frequently en- 
forced, was for the headmost ships to shorten sail 
when signaled to do so by the flagship, and for the 
sternmost vessels to make all sail to catch up; and 
frequently a frigate or a sloop of war was ordered 
to tow up some dull sailer so as to keep the fleet as 
compact as possible. In order to do this a hawser 
was made fast to the foremast of the merchantman, 
and she was towed ahead of all the other merchant- 
men, or just under the vanship's stern. At nightfall 
the signal " close order " was given from the flagship, 
and the merchantmen huddled together as closely as 
possible under the stern of the vanship and did not 
spread out again until daylight. 

This cumbersome arrangement of fleet sailing had 
its disadvantages. When such a fleet homeward 
bound was being collected in the West Indies, it was 
impossible to keep the fact concealed from the vigi- 
lant privateersmen, and they took advantage of it 
by placing their vessels in the course the fleet was 


obliged to take. These merchantmen usually were 
laden with sugar and coffee, the most desirable 
cargoes for privateersmen, who not infrequently 
dogged a convoy across the Atlantic in the hope of 
picking up some stray craft. On such occasions two 
privateers acting in concert stood a much better 
chance than one especially if it was a small fleet, 
escorted by only one vessel; for, while the "bull- 
dog " was furiously chasing one of the swift-sailing 
privateers, the other managed to pounce upon the 
prey unseen by the escort. In such cases the quick- 
est kind of work was necessary, for although the 
prizes were rich and easily made, the " bulldog " 
might be back at any moment. For this reason prize 
crews were ready, at the word, to be thrown aboard 
the prize, run her to leeward, and then steer in differ- 
ent directions so as to divide the enemy's attention. 

In these attacks the privateersman operated al- 
most without danger of capture, for the war ships 
dared not pursue too far away from their convoy. It 
has happened on more than one occasion that cap- 
tured merchantmen have been so hard pressed by 
the escort that the prize crew were obliged to 
abandon the prize and return to the privateer in 
their boats, the war ship usually being content with 
recovering the prize. In dogging a merchant fleet 
across the Atlantic the privateersman usually can 
do nothing in the way of taking prizes if the weather 
is fine, but should it come on thick, or a strong gale, 
he has a golden opportunity. At such times the 
merchantmen become widely scattered, and the deft 
privateer runs from one to the other, making easy 
capture. As a rule, the specie and most valuable 
goods are hastily transferred to the privateer, a prize 
crew placed aboard the merchantman and ordered 
to some port, while the privateer hastens to other 

The second method of sailing in war time was to 
procure swift-sailing vessels, heavily armed and 


manned, which could rely on their own speed or 
strength to avoid the clutches of a privateer. These 
vessels usually had rich cargoes, and several Ameri- 
can privateers were fitted out for the express pur- 
pose of capturing them, with the result that many 
a hard-fought action took place. 

Early in the War of 1812 most of the American 
privateers were small pilot boats, but it was soon 
found that they were too weak to capture the aver- 
age trader, as most of the English merchantmen 
were heavily armed. This led to the construction 
of powerful, swift-sailing craft, mounting 12-, 18-, 
24-, and even 36-pounders, and manned by one hun- 
dred and twenty to one hundred and sixty men 
veritable corvettes which were sent to sea at pri- 
vate expense. Of this class were the privateers Paul 
Jones, Rosamond, Saratoga, General Armstrong, Yorfc- 
toion, Anaconda, Revenge, Volunteer, Rossie, Reindeer, 
Avon, and BlaJceley. Perhaps the most formidable 
of all was the frigate-built ship America, a privateer 
which was purchased in France in 1795 by George 
Crowninshield and was commissioned as a privateer 
in 1802. 

Many of our merchant vessels, transformed into 
privateers, proved to be formidable craft. In fact, 
a large proportion of them were built with a view 
to speed; for, thanks to British interference in 
our mercantile affairs, the American shipowner 
had found it preferable to sacrifice a little carry- 
ing space in his ships to additional speed, as it 
would enable him to outsail the British cruiser and 
thus avoid disastrous delays and degrading impress- 
ment. Speed in the American merchant marine had 
been fostered also by the forced running trade to 
Prance and the West Indies, so that when the War 
of 1812 broke out the American merchantman found 
himself abundantly supplied with swift-sailing ves- 
sels. It was just this circumstance that proved to 
be the foundation stone of the marvelous success of 


American privateers in this war. The ordinary chan- 
nels of commercial enterprise being closed by hostili- 
ties, the American merchant was quick to turn his 
energies to mounting his fast-sailing vessels with a 
few cannon, and, after manning them with a large 
complement of officers and seamen, sending them out 
in quest of his cousin's ships. Thus it was that ag- 
gressive British impressment on the high seas, several 
years before the war, had caused the development of 
a fleet of American merchant ships which soon proved 
to be a terrible scourge in the hands of the daring and 
skillful American skipper. 



ORDINARILY there was little glory or sympathy 
for the privateersman. The navy man went to sea 
knowing that if he made a good fight, even though de- 
feated, his professional standing would in no way be 
impaired; on the contrary, decidedly improved. He 
knew that if he fell he, at least, would have the grate- 
ful record of history. Almost any man can be brave if 
he be conscious that the eye of the world is upon him. 
The average man can perform deeds of heroism when 
he knows that substantial rewards and professional 
advancement are in store for him. But it requires 
a man of unusual bravery to face danger unflinch- 
ingly when he realizes that no one will be cognizant 
of his deeds save the immediate participants, and 
when loss of life or limb will be regarded merely as 
his own personal misfortune. 

Our privateersmen did not have the stimulus and 
advantages of an organized service. They left port 
with the avowed intention of plundering the enemy. 
If they were successful, their only reward was a 
division of the spoils; if failure attended them, they 
were kicked about like the under dog in the fight 
" Served them right," said their envious brothers on 
land. " They wanted to get rich too fast, while we 
poor fellows are obliged to plod along in the usual 
slow, poking way." If the officers and men sacrificed 
life or limb to secure a prize, no pension awaited 
them or their families. If they came out unscathed 

1776-1814. ANT "IMPUDENT CAPTURE." 23 

they were rewarded, perhaps, with a cold "thank 
you," and received their share of the profits calcu- 
lated down to the last cent with mathematical exact- 
ness. There was no generous Congress to vote fifty 
thousand dollars to them if they sank their prize in 
the effort to capture her, as was the case with the 
captors of the Guerri&re and Java] neither could they 
expect twenty-five thousand dollars if they lost both 
prize and their own ship, as was the case in the 
Wasp-Frolic fight. 

In no light does the daring of our privateersmen 
shine more resplendently than in this. They went 
to sea, it is true, for mere pelf, but in many instances 
they performed services of national importance. 
Scores of American seamen, like Reuben James, 
John Cheever, Bartlett Laffey, and John McFarland 
won imperishable fame by acts of heroism because 
they were performed in an organized service and 
under the national colors. But the privateersman, 
although materially assisting in the defense of the 
flag, could die at his post and the fact might easily 
pass unrecorded. A commander of a privateer could 
capture the king's cruisers, thereby inflicting un- 
precedented shame and humiliation on the Eoyal 
Navy, and the incident scarcely would be known; 
while the owners of the privateer would not thank 
him for the unwarranted risk he ran, as, ordi- 
narily, there was nothing to be got out of a war ship 
except hard knocks and empty holds. Had the cap- 
ture been made by an officer of the navy in the Gov- 
ernment service it would have been heralded abroad, 
while substantial rewards and rapid promotion 
would have followed. 

Under these circumstances it is truly surprising 
that we discover acts of such superb bravery among 
the American privateersmen, yet a careful research 
into the history of that most important branch of our 
maritime power shows that it is replete with deeds 


privateersmen is related with characteristic frank- 
ness in a London periodical of the year 1777: "An 
American privateer of twelve guns came into one of 
the ports of the Jersey Islands, in the English Chan- 
nel, yesterday morning, tacked about on the firing of 
the guns from the castle, and just off the island took 
a large brig bound for this port, which they have 
since carried into Cherbourg. The American priva- 
teer had the impudence to send her boat in the dusk 
of the evening to a little island off here called Jetto, 
and unluckily carried off the lieutenant of Northley's 
Independent Company with the garrison adjutant, 
who were shooting rabbits for their diversion. The 
brig they took is valued at thirty-five thousand dol- 

Charles W. Goldsborough, who during the first 
twenty years of the navy's existence as a separate 
department acted as its chief clerk, relates that dur- 
ing one of the many battles between British cruisers 
and American privateers a cannon ball came aboard 
the latter, and, after spending its force in smashing 
things up indiscriminately, rolled along the deck not 
quite decided what to do next. An American sailor 
picked it up and wrote on it with a piece of chalk, 
"Postpaid and returned with the compliments of 
Yankee Doodle; " then putting the shot in a cannon 
fired it back to its owners. 

In privateers speed was a great and ruling con- 
sideration, and in their efforts to attain it the build- 
ers having no Government or public opinion to 
check them were apt to get their craft dangerously 
top-heavy. This eagerness to acquire speed resulted 
disastrously in the case of the privateer Arrow?, Cap- 
tain E. Conkling, of New York. She is described as 
a beautiful brig mounting fourteen guns and carry- 
ing a complement of one hundred and fifty men. 
Sailing from New York January 14, 1815, she cruised 
some time in the West Indies. After leaving one of 
those ports she was never heard of, and, being heavily 


spared, the opinion was generally expressed that she 
was capsized, either in a squall or during a chase. 

Another danger to which we may allude as being 
peculiar to privateersmen was that of prisoners ris^ 
ing and overpowering their captors. This danger 
was especially great during long and prosperous voy- 
ages, when the privateer's complement was weakened 
by drafts for prize crews, and when usually there 
was a larger number of prisoners in the ship than 
there was of the crew. A striking illustration of this 
is had in the case of the privateer sloop Eagle, of Con- 
necticut. This vessel carried six guns and thirty 
men, also commanded by a Captain E. Conkling. In 
a single cruise she captured six vessels, "one to every 
gun," that being the acme of privateering luck as 
expressed by the tars of that day. A privateer that 
made more prizes than the number of giins she car- 
ried was regarded as sailing in very dangerous 
waters, and was, perhaps, quite as objectionable as 
one that had made fewer captures. So that by cap- 
turing six vessels, or one for every gun in the sloop, 
it will be seen that the Eagle, on this venture, had 
reached the climax of privateering success. 

It was unfortunate for her that she took so many 
prizes, for by manning them all she had reduced her 
complement to fifteen men, besides which were a 
large number of prisoners aboard. Taking advan- 
tage of a favorable opportunity, these prisoners rose 
on their captors, overpowered them, and, putting all 
but two boys to death, made away with the ship. 
They had not gone far, however, before they were re- 
captured by the American privateer Hancock. In the 
following year the Eagle was blown up in New York. 

A case somewhat similar to this was that of the 
privateeer Yankee, Captain Johnson, of Massachu- 
setts. This craft carried nine guns, sixteen swivels, 
and forty-three men. She was one of the first to get 
to sea in the war for American independence. Leav- 


in July captured the merchant ships CreigJiton and 
Zachara, laden with rum and sugar. Placing prize 
crews in these vessels, Captain Johnson was continu- 
ing his cruise in their company when the prisoners 
in the prizes rose, secured their captors and their 
vessel, and then joined in an attack on the Yankee. 
Being short-handed, through manning his prizes, 
Captain Johnson was compelled to surrender. He 
was taken to Dover with his men and imprisoned. 

Our privateersmen were especially exposed to the 
anger of British naval officers, and there were but 
few instances in which they were treated much better 
than pirates. On December 1, 1812, the privateer 
Jack's Favorite, Captain Miller, of New York, put into 
St. Barts for provisions. A few days later the British 
12-gun war schooner Subtle, Captain Brown, entered 
the same port, and her commander boasted, in the 
presence of a number of merchants and others, that 
he would " follow and take the damned Yankee priva- 
teer if he went to hell for her." When Captain Miller 
sailed out of the harbor, the Subtle followed and gave 
chase. Not wishing to engage a man-of-war, the 
Americans carried a press of sail, and the English- 
men also spread all the canvas their craft could stand 
under. While the two vessels were staggering under 
the pressure, a squall came up. The Americans 
adroitly took in their canvas so as to receive the 
brunt of the blow under bare poles, but their pursuer 
was capsized. In a few minutes the squall blew over, 
and Captain Miller, failing to discover the slightest 
trace of his foe, was moved by motives of humanity 
to retrace his course. On reaching the spot where 
the Subtle was last seen he found a few caps and ham- 
mocks floating in the water. This was all that was 
left of the Subtle, all of her people having gone down 
with her. 

Little or nothing was done to pension or assist 
the families of unfortunate privateers in our war for 
independence, but on June 5, 1813, the Navy Depart- 


menr issued the following order: "To enable those 
who may be wounded or disabled in any engagement 
with the enemy to obtain certificates entitling them 
to pensions, the like regulations and restrictions as 
are used in relation to the navy of the United States 
are to be observed, to wit: That the commanding 
officer of every vessel having a commission, or letters 
of marque or reprisal, cause to be given to any officer 
or seaman who, during his cruise, shall have been 
wounded or disabled as aforesaid, a certificate of the 
surgeon on board, to be approved and signed by such 
commanding officer, describing the nature and de- 
gree, as far as practicable, of such wound or dis- 
ability, naming his place of residence and the rate 
of wages, if any, to which he was entitled at the time 
of receiving such wound or disability; and that such 
certificate be transmitted to this department. 

" The widows (or orphans, where the wife is dead) 
of those persons who may be slain in any engage- 
ment with the enemy, on board such vessels, will be 
entitled to pension certificates upon forwarding to 
this office proof from the commanding officer of the 
vessel to which such persons were attached of their 
having been slain as aforesaid, and the -certificate of 
a justice of the peace for the county in which such 
widows or orphans may reside that they actually 
stand in that relation to the deceased." 



THE first American sea fight of which we have 
record was in the nature of a private enterprise. In 
May, 1636, Mr. Oldham, while sailing in Long Island 
Sound, near Plum Island, in a trading vessel, was 
murdered by the Narragansett Indians and his vessel 
seized. Scarcely had the savages taken possession 
of their prize when John Gallop, who also was cruis- 
ing in that vicinity in a twenty-ton sloop, came upon 
the scene and recognized the vessel as Mr. Oldham's, 
the latter having sailed only a few days before with 
a crew of two white boys and two Narragansett In- 
dians. Approaching Oldham's vessel Gallop hailed, 
and receiving, no answer he ran close alongside and 
discovered fourteen Indians lying on the deck appar- 
ently endeavoring to avoid detection. 

Noticing that a canoe manned by Indians and 
loaded with goods was leaving the craft, Gallop was 
convinced that something was wrong. This belief 
was strengthened when the savages in the vessel 
slipped the cable and attempted to make off in the 
direction of Narragansett Bay. Gallop now fired a 
volley from his small arms into the vessel. The sav- 
ages being armed, for the most part, with spears, 
knives, and tomahawks, were quickly driven below, 
only the few possessing firearms making any show of 
fight, and these also quickly sought the protection of 
the hold. Fearing to board in the presence of so 
many enemies Gallop maneuvered so as to run the 



vessel down, and in a few minutes succeeded in giv- 
ing her a blow with his prow that sent her careening 
on her beam ends. Thinking that their prize was 
about to capsize, six of the Indians ran on deck, threw 
themselves into the sea, and were drowned. 

Gallop now rigged his anchor over the bow in such 
a manner that the fluke would act as a spur which 
might pierce the thin sides of Oldham's vessel. Fill- 
ing away Gallop again rammed, the anchor fluke 
crashing through the side of the prize. The white 
men then began firing down the hold, but, finding 
that this did not dislodge the remaining natives, Gal- 
lop sheered off and prepared to bunt again. Before 
this could be done, three or four more Indians rushed 
to the deck and jumped into the sea, where they also 
perished. One Indian now appeared and made signs 
of submission. He was taken aboard the sloop, and, 
being bound, was placed in the hold. Then another 
Indian offered to submit. He was taken aboard, but 
fearing that the savages might arrange some plan 
for overpowering him Gallop caused him to be thrown 
into the sea. 

There were now only a few Indians remaining 
aboard the prize, but they were armed, and occupy- 
ing a small apartment below, where they could not 
be easily reached, they prepared to sell their lives 
dearly. Removing all the goods in the prize to his 
ship, Gallop hauled up for the Connecticut shore with 
the sloop in tow. As the wind increased soon after- 
ward, the tow was cut adrift, and finally went ashore 
somewhere in Narragansett Bay. Oldham's body, 
horribly mutilated and still warm, had been discov- 
ered by Gallop. When the news of this affair reached 
the authorities in Massachusetts an expedition was 
sent out under Mr. Endicott, and the Narragansett 
Indians were severely punished. 

In 1645 a colonial ship carrying fourteen guns and 
thirty men had an all-day fight with a rover of Bar- 
bary which is said to have carried twenty guns and 


seventy men. The action took place near the Straits 
of Gibraltar. Night put an end to the struggle and 
the vessels separated, the rover with a loss of her 
rudder. The American ship was built at Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, and had been trading in the Canaries. 

For the first hundred years and more after the 
establishing of the colonies in the New World, the dis- 
tinction between privateers, slavers, pirates, and even 
Government cruisers was vague, and at times obliter- 
ated altogether. It was a period in which, on the 
high seas, might was right; and when their home 
Governments were at war with each other and some- 
times when at peace the colonial seaman seized 
whatever he, could, whether he was a pirate, priva- 
teersman, or a king's officer. The astonishing growth 
of commerce in the New World made it a tempting 
field for depredations of every kind, and the result 
was that high-handed proceedings on the open sea 
was the rule rather than the exception. As a result 
of this chaotic state, the colonists found themselves 
compelled to maintain cruisers at their own expense, 
while traders were as carefully prepared for fighting 
as for carrying merchandise. 

In some seaports there was a general connivance 
on the part of the people at this state of affairs so 
long as the depredations were directed against 
" others." At Charleston, South Carolina, pirates of 
all degrees walked the streets with impunity. Men 
well known for their participation in piratical deeds 
were welcomed by those among whom they spent 
their ill-gotten gains. In some cases they were tried, 
but the juries always managed to return a negative 

One authority says: "It is true that as long as 
the pirates preyed on Spanish ships, and were free in 
spending Spanish gold and silver in Charleston, they 
were welcomed there, at least by those who were 
beneficiaries. The authorities frowned, not very 
darkly, it is true, and made feeble efforts to suppress 


these visitors; but the juries were made up of the 
people, and then, as now, public sentiment ruled, the 
law to the contrary notwithstanding. Of course, 
piracy was illegal whether the colonists were the suf- 
ferers or not; but it was difficult for the authorities 
to obtain proof of the guilt of these men, and they 
could not be punished on suspicion a provision of 
the law which the public commended. Many of the 
pirates came and went without question; others 
against whom charges were made gave security for 
good behavior till the Lords Proprietors could grant 
a general pardon. And no trouble was taken to ob* 
serve how they behaved themselves when away from 
Charleston. Governor Ludwell was ordered to 
change the manner of securing juries so as to enable 
the authorities to convict the pirates, and the Pro- 
prietors ordered that they be tried under the laws 
of England, which were more severe than those of 
Carolina. But by lavish expenditure of money the 
sea robbers made so many friends that it was diffi- 
cult even to bring them to trial and impossible to 
convict. They secured the best legal talent in the 
colony, and their strong defense by the prominent 
and influential men who were the lawyers in those 
days had its effect upon that class which made up 
the juries. 

" Many of the pirates retired on their fortunes, 
purchased lands in the colony about Charleston, and 
made their homes there, becoming subjects of King 
George, and doubtless leading honest lives. While 
it is now impossible to ascertain those among the 
law-abiding citizens of South Carolina whose pa- 
ternal ancestors harassed the Spanish shipowners 
two hundred years ago, it is quite certain that many 
of the taxpayers in this State could claim that dis- 
tinction. But the condition of piracy can not be 
measured by present lights. In those times of almost 
incessant war, when one Government commissioned 
individuals to rove the seas and rob its enemies' ships 


of commerce, the step from the privateer to the pirate 
was natural, and the moral difference not very 
marked. Men of very good family became pirates 
because they loved adventure; it was profitable if 
they were not hanged, and they had nothing to do at 
home except fight." 

We can better understand this leniency toward 
the outlaws when we remember that in the Spanish 
attack on Charleston in 1706 the authorities did not 
scruple calling on these " desperate " men to enlist 
in the vessels hastily prepared for defense of the town. 
The Spanish force, commanded by a French admiral, 
consisted of four war ships and a galley. To oppose 
them Lieutenant-Colonel Rhett, with a commission of 
vice-admiral, collected all the armed vessels in port 
and offered battle, but the enemy, having suffered 
reverses on shore, fled precipitately. A few days 
afterward the colonists learned that a large ship be- 
longing to the enemy was on the coast. Going out 
with two of his vessels, Ehett captured her. 1 

It was when these rovers of the seas began to 
plunder the colonists themselves that real steps were 
taken to put a stop to their unlawful practices. In 
1699 the culture of rice in Carolina had developed 
to such proportions that there were not enough ships 
available to transport the commodity to England. In 
that year a piratical ship was fitted in the West In- 
dies and captured several vessels bound for Charles- 
ton, their crews being sent ashore in boats. Owing 
to a quarrel over the division of booty nine of the 
pirates were set on shore, and, making their way to 
Charleston, were recognized by some of the men cap- 
tured in the merchant vessels. The enormity of 
piracy was then apparent to the colonists, and these 
men were seized and seven of them were hanged, 
while the other two were imprisoned. 

1 For the several expeditions against the French in Canada see 
Maclay's History of the Navy, vol. i, pp. 7-13, 

1718, STEED BONNETT. 33 

Early in. the eighteenth century a nest of pirates 
was established on the island of Providence, in the 
Bahamas, from which place they sent out ships to 
prey on commerce. Another headquarters of the sea 
robbers was opened near the mouth of Cape Fear 
Eiver, and for many years these parts of the Atlantic 
were completely in their possession. Shipowners in 
England in 1718 appealed to the Crown, and Captain 
Woods Rogers sailed against Providence with sev- 
eral war ships. At that time it was estimated that 
there were several hundred men on the island, and 
all but one hundred of them accepted the king's par- 
don and gave up the unlawful practice. The re- 
mainder, under the leadership of Captain Vane, es- 
caped in a vessel, and, sailing up the coast, captured 
two merchantmen from Charleston bound for London. 

Learning that two piratical ships had put into 
Cape Pear Eiver, Governor Johnson commissioned 
Colonel Ehett to command a war ship fitted up for 
the purpose and sail against these outlaws. One of 
the two piratical craft was a sloop carrying ten guns 
and commanded by Captain Steed Bonnett, " a hand- 
some young fellow," who was said to be a member of 
an old English family. Being reckless and wild he 
had chosen to be a pirate chief. The second vessel, 
commanded by Eichard Worley, carried only six guns. 
These two rovers had been in the habit of boldly 
cruising off Charleston harbor for days at a time and 
in plain sight of the town, waiting for the first mer- 
chantman that might venture out. 

At the time Ehett sailed, Steed Bonnett was doing 
duty in the blockading vessel. On making out the 
force of Ehett's ship Bonnett sailed for Cape Fear 
Eiver, hotly pursued. When within the entrance of 
the river Ehett came up with the pirate, and after 
firing a few shots induced the freebooter to haul 
down his flag. Before consenting to give themselves 
up, however, the pirates stipulated, under threats of 
blowing up their ship and involving their captors in 


the explosion, that they should receive no punishment 
for their offenses. Ehett could only promise that he 
would use his influence in their behalf, upon which 
the pirates, to the number of forty, were brought into 
Charleston with their sloop. 

Governor Johnson then sailed in search of Worley, 
taking command of the colonial cruiser in person. 
He met the piratical craft about seventy-five miles 
north of Charleston and a desperate action immedi- 
ately was begun. The pirates fought with the ferocity 
of despair, well knowing the fate that awaited them 
in case of capture. Although much inferior nr force 
they inflicted great damage in the colonial cruiser, 
killing a number of men and wounding more. Final- 
ly, every man in the piratical craft was killed or dis- 
abled, saving Worley himself and his second in com- 
mand. These two fought a gun until desperately 
wounded, when they surrendered. They were taken 
into Charleston and hanged. 

In the case of Steed Bonnett there were the old- 
time delays and legal hitches, so that it was about a 
year after his capture before he was hanged. His 
forty companions, however, were promptly executed 
after conviction, which was a few days after their ar- 
rival in port. They were all hanged on the same day, 
on the spot where the beautiful Battery now is, and 
their bodies were buried a few yards away, below high 
water, in the Ashley River. 

As early as 1646 the colony of New Haven caused 
a vessel of one hundred and fifty tons to be built at 
Ehode Island for the purpose of protecting her com- 
merce. This craft was lost at sea on her first cruise. 
Soon afterward the settlements of Hartford and New 
Haven united in fitting out a vessel carrying ten guns 
and forty men to cruise in Long Island Sound for pro- 
tection against the Dutch and against " all other evil- 
doers." Connecticut, in 1665- ? 66, maintained an 
armed vessel at Watch Hill to prevent the Narragan- 
sett Indians from crossing and attacking the Montauk 

The pirates fought with the ferocity of despair. 


tribe. In view of the fact that by 1676 Massachusetts 
alone had constructed over seven hundred vessels, 
varying in tonnage from six to two hundred and fifty 
tons, and Connecticut boasted of one thousand tons of 
shipping, it is not strange that we find the colonial 
governments fitting out war craft at their own ex- 
pense, and that merchants armed their vessels with 

It was not long before buccaneers began to scent 
this rich booty. This class of sea rovers seems tp have 
originated in the West Indies. They were outlaws 
who swarmed around Tortugas, and at first contented 
themselves by attacking vessels from the shore. Ben- 
dered bold by their first successes they increased in 
numbers, and gradually ventured farther, until they 
began to infest the entire North American coast. 
Less than a dozen years after the landing of the Pil- 
grims, one David Bull, with a crew of fifteen English- 
men, committed acts of piracy on New England fisher- 
men, and even attacked settlements. With a view to 
capturing him and guarding against other freebooters 
the Blessing of the Bay, a bark of thirty tons, in 1632, 
was launched. Before this boat could get to sea, how- 
ever, the fishermen themselves had manned several 
pinnaces and shallops, in which they made three ex- 
peditions in search of the marauders, but without 

It is probable, however, that the charges against 
Bull were somewhat exaggerated, as the stern Puri- 
tans were apt to regard levity of any kind as some- 
thing akin to crime. It is stated that one of the 
" serious accusations " against Bull and his men was 
that when the New England fishermen assembled on 
deck at the hour of prayer Bull caused his men to 
sing boisterous songs and shout meaningless phrases, 
which might well horrify the strict Puritan, who has 
been known to condemn women to death on the mere 
suspicion of witchcraft. A certain Stone also was 
seized by the New Englanders in 1633 and bounden 


to appear at the Admiralty courts in England, as 
being somehow connected with piracy. The grand 
jury discharged him, and it is believed that the real 
cause of his arrest was a charge of adultery. 

The case of Captain William Kidd is a good illus- 
tration of the general looseness on the high seas at 
this time. A large number of privateers had beei 
fitted out at New York, and there were reasons tc 
believe that they did not always confine their atten 
tions to the enemy's commerce, but appropriated 
goods of the colonists. With a view to checking thes< 
depredations a privateer was fitted out, with sanctioi 
of the Government, and Captain Kidd was placed ii 
command of her. In this enterprise the High Lore 
Chancellor and several other distinguished noblemei 
had shares, while one tenth of the profits were to re 
vert to the Crown. The vessel sailed from Plymouth 
England, in 1696, but instead of directing his energie 
against the lawless privateers and pirates on th 
American coast Kidd spent three years in the Indiai 
Ocean plundering the commerce of all nations. H 
finally turned his prow toward America, and, anchoi 
ing in Gardiner's Bay, buried some of his treasure 
on Gardiner's Island, which for many years has bee: 
owned by a family of that name. Kidd intrusted Mi 
Gardiner with his secret and then sailed away, burj 
ing other treasures at different points along the shor< 

Kidd then paid and discharged his crew, and, ai 
pearing in Boston in 1699, was arrested. Among hi 
papers was found a list of his buried treasures, an 
when the officials presented themselves to Mr. Ga: 
diner the rover's box of booty was recovered. Th 
plunder consisted of bags of gold dust, gold and silv 
bars, jewelry, lamps, etc.; in all valued at aboi 
twenty thousand dollars. Kidd was sent to Bnglan 
and tried, and it is a curious commentary on the tim< 
to note that, on May 9, 1701, he was executed, not fc 
piracy, but on the charge of killing one of his ow 


We can easily believe that such a career as that of 
Captain Kidd's was possible and that many other 
similar depredations, on a smaller scale, were per- 
petrated when we come to investigate the condition 
of society in the colonies during this period, for it 
appears that not only were the privateersmen lawless 
on the high seas, but were quite as unruly when in 
port. Many murders in which this class of mariners 
acted as principals were committed in the streets of 
New York, so that it was unsafe for citizens to appear 
when any considerable number of these craft were in 

On the night of September 19, 1705, an unusually 
large number of privateers happened to be in the har- 
bor, many of them recently returned from successful 
voyages, and as a consequence the ale and wine 
houses were crowded and the streets were filled with 
drunken, boisterous, and dangerous gangs of seamen 
ready for any mischief in which to engage their 
whipped-up energies. One of the many disturbances 
took place in front of a house in which the sheriff of 
New York lived. As he was endeavoring to disperse 
the mob that official was set upon and beaten, while 
several citizens who came to his assistance were seri- 
ously wounded. In a short time privateersmen from 
various parts of the town met in front of the sheriff's 
house and assumed such a threatening tone that 
troops from the fort were sent to repress them. At 
the same time the sheriff, together with some men be- 
longing to the British war ships in port, hastened to 
the scene of trouble. 

Unfortunately, before these several bodies repre- 
senting law and order could get together, the priva- 
teersmen met Lieutenant Wharton Featherstone 
Hough and Ensign Alcock, two officers of Colonel 
Livesay's regiment, which had just arrived in the 
Jamaica fleet. These men were peaceably returning 
to their lodgings when. they fell in with the rioting 
seamen. The ensign was knocked down several times 


and badly bruised. His sword was taken from him 
and it is believed that this was the weapon which wa 
thrust through Lieutenant Hough's heart a momen 
later, killing him instantly. 

At this juncture the privateer smen were set upoi 
by the sheriff's posse and by the man-of-warsmen, an< 
a general fight took place. The discipline of th 
trained seamen soon prevailed over the unorganized 
gang of rioters, and in a few minutes the latter wer 
fleeing in all directions, leaving a number of thei 
comrades dead in the street, besides several wounde< 
and a number as prisoners. Most of these privateers 
men were from the private armed brigantine Dragor 
Captain Ginks. 

The behavior of the American privateersman whil 
in port, however, was no worse than that of his cousi: 
across the sea. English accounts state that even a 
late as 1778 there was great difficulty in maintainin 
order in the city of Liverpool when any considerabl 
number of privateersmen was in port. One recor 
says: " The privateersmen, when they came into por 
were the terror of the town, and committed man 
excesses. So outrageous did their conduct becom 
that in 1778 the mayor of Liverpool issued a procb 
mation cautioning these lawless persons that h 
would in future call in the aid of the military for th 
protection of the lives and property of the peaceabl 

Piracy increased rather than diminished on th 
North American coast after the peace of 1713; th 
ship WMdan, of twenty-three guns and one hundre 
and thirty men, under the command of Captai 
Samuel Bellamy, seizing vessels off the New Englan 
coast as late as 1717. His career was cut short b 
a storm, in which his vessel was wrecked off Cap 
Cod, more than one hundred bodies being washe 
ashore. Six of his men who escaped the sea wei 
seized, tried in Boston, and executed. These drasti 
measures did much toward clearing the coast of fre 


booters, but did not exterminate them entirely, for we 
find that in 1723 a British sloop of war entered New- 
port with twenty-five pirates who were sentenced to 
be hanged. 

After the peace of Utrecht most of the colonies 
maintained small armed vessels for the protection of 
their coasts and commerce, some of their commanders 
afterward entering the Eoyal Navy. One of these 
officers was Captain Wooster, of Connecticut, who 
was killed in the Revolution, at Danbury, while hold- 
ing the rank of brigadier-general. When England 
declared war against Spain in 1739 many American 
armed vessels were employed as transports. 

It was in the war against France, which broke out 
in 1744, that American privateers first began seri- 
ously to assert themselves as a distinctive sea force. 
Besides the highly important part they played in the 
expedition against Louisburg, 1 a large number of 
privateers put to sea on their own responsibility and 
made independent cruises against the enemy. The 
profits resulting from some of these ventures were 
enormous, it frequently happening that a single cruise 
netted a common sailor one hundred pounds, while 
in one instance it is recorded that one hundred and 
sixty pounds were realized by each seaman a re- 
spectable fortune for a sailor in those days. 

After the 20-gun ship Shirley, Captain Eouse, had 
completed her work in the Louisburg expedition, May, 
1745, she separated from her consorts and captured 
eight French vessels, two of which made a deter- 
mined resistance. For this service Captain Rouse 
received a captain's commission in the king's service. 

In June, 1744, the privateers Hester and Polly en- 
tered New York harbor with a prize, a new brig laden 
with cocoa, the share of each American sailor being 
eleven thousand pounds of the cargo. 

In August of the following year the privateer 

i See Maolay's History of the Nayy, yoL i, pp. 10-18. 

40 COLONIAL PE1VATBEBS. 1745-1746. 

Clinton brought into the same port La Pomona, a sloop 
of one hundred and eighty tons, carrying fourteen 
guns and forty-three men. This craft was taken with- 
out loss. Her cargo consisted of eighty-eight casks 
of sugar, two hundred and thirty-seven casks of in- 
digo (or eighty-seven thousand five hundred pounds 
of that commodity), and fifteen bales of cotton. In 
the capture of this vessel the commander of the 
Clinton is reported as having acted in a highly honor- 
able manner. After La Pomona had been boarded, 
the American sailors were requested by their com- 
mander to " desist " from plundering the passengers, 
officers, and sailors of the prize. The tars acquiesced, 
and the master of La Pomona was so affected by the 
delicacy shown that on his arrival in New York he 
gave the officers and crew of the Clinton "a very 
handsome treat of a hogshead of punch and an ox 
roasted whole." 

A large, heavily armed French ship, the Rising 
Sun, was taken by a clever stratagem in 1746. This 
vessel belonged to a fleet of merchantmen convoyed 
by three men-of-war, and for several days the Ameri- 
can privateer Prince Charles, Captain Tingley, hung 
on the outskirts of the convoy in the hope of an op- 
portunity to attack. The Prince Charles herself had 
been a French craft taken by an American privateer, 
and, on being refitted, was "reckoned the stoutest 
vessel fitted out of North America." She was of three 
hundred and eighty tons burden, carried twenty-four 
carriage guns (mostly 9-pounders) and thirty-four 
swivels, besides a complement of two hundred men. 
The Rising Sun also was a formidable vessel for a 
private armed craft, carrying twenty-two heavy guns 
and a corresponding complement. Had the two ves- 
sels met squarely, a desperate battle, with a doubt- 
ful outcome, would have resulted. Not that Captain 
Tingley had any objections to a fair yardarm and 
yardarm fight, but, like the shrewd, calculating 
American that he was, he did not see the use of 


shedding blood when the prize might be taken by a 

After dogging the fleet three days he came upon 
the Rising Sun separated from the other vessels. Put- 
ting on a bold front, the American commander affect- 
ed to be a regular man-of-war and demanded the sur- 
render of the Rising Sun. To assist him in the decep- 
tion Captain Tingley armed a number of his men like 
marine^ and placed grenadier caps on their heads, and 
arranged to have those imposing headpieces appear 
just above his bulwarks, where the enemy could see 
them. The trick worked admirably, and the French- 
men surrendered with no more resistance than em- 
phatic protests. The Rising Sun arrived off Sandy 
Hook early in April. Her cargo consisted of one 
thousand one hundred and seventeen hogsheads of 
sugar, four hundred and fifty-eight casks of coffee, 
and other goods, besides specie. She drew eighteen 
feet of water, so that ,some difficulty was experienced 
in getting her over the bar. 

Early in June, 1746, the privateers Dragon and 
Greyhound appeared in ISTew York harbor in a sorry 
plight. They had with them as a prize the Spanish 
privateer Grande Diablo, which they had manned and 
used as a consort. The three vessels subsequently, 
while cruising in the Gulf of Mexico, fell in with a 
Spanish war ship mounting thirty-six guns and 
manned by three hundred men. The privateers began 
an attack on the cruiser and kept it up for two 
days. By that time the four ships had been reduced 
to wrecks, and the Americans, having exhausted their 
ammunition, hauled off. The Spaniard had her flag 
shot away in the course of the engagement, but re* 
hoisted it on the withdrawal of her assailants. 

That the line between privateering and piracy was 
not very distinctly drawn by the middle of the eight- 
eenth century is shown in an item published in one 
of the " newspapers " of New York in 1747: " Captain 
Troup, in the privateer brig Royal Hester, of this port, 

42 COLONIAL PRIVATEERS. 1744r-1758. 


lately met with a Danish vessel that Wad a Spanish 
merchantman with eight thousand pieces of money 
on board. Captain Troup thought proper to accept 
of the money, and, paying the Dane his freight, very 
civilly dismissed him." 

Captain Troup also commanded the privateer 
Sturdy Beggar, a ship carrying twenty-six guns and 
credited with a complement of two hundred men. In 
fact, a majority of the colonial privateers carried 
heavy armaments and large complements, the aver- 
age probably being not far from eighteen guns and 
one hundred and thirty men, making them really 
more formidable than the average cruiser of that day. 
Keeping this fact in mind, it will not be difficult to 
believe the statement made in the Weekly Post Boy 
of September 3, 1744: " ? Tis computed there will 
be before winter one hundred and thirteen sail of 
privateers at sea from the British- American colonies, 
most stout vessels and well manned. A naval force, 
some say, equal that of Great Britain in the time of 
Queen Elizabeth." 

In January, 1758, the 14-gun privateer Thruloe, 
Captain Mantle, having a complement of eighty-four 
men, had a hard-fought action with the French pri- 
vate armed ship Les Deu$ Amis, Captain F61ix. The 
Frenchmen carried only ten guns, but had a comple- 
ment of ninety-eight men, who, as the battle was 
fought at close quarters, made good use of their small 
arms. This was the principal, if not the most obsti- 
nately contested, sea fight between privateers in this 
war. The action lasted over two hours, and "it 
was not," so an old-time record declares, "until 
three hundred powderflasks and seventy-two stink- 
pots " had been thrown aboard Les Deux Amis that 
the enemy was induced to yield. The Americans had 
thirty-seven men killed or wounded, while the French 
are credited with a loss of eighty. 



IT was on water not on land, as has been so gen- 
erally believed that the first overt act of resistance 
to British authority in the North American colonies 
was made. It appears that an illicit trade had long 
been carried by the English colonists, and in endeav- 
oring to suppress it the commissioners of customs, 
as early as 1764, had stationed armed vessels along 
the coast from Oasco Bay to Cape Henlopen. The 
vessel cruising off Rhode Island in 1764 was the 
St. John, Lieutenant Hill, which made herself so ob- 
noxious to the colonists that an armed sloop was 
fitted out to destroy her, and was deterred from the 
attempt only by the arrival in Newport of the Brit- 
ish man-of-war Squirrel. The colonists, however, 
ventured so far as to land on Goat Island, seize the 
battery, and open a " fire of defiance " on the war 

In the same year the British frigate Maidstone 
appeared at Newport, and for several months great- 
ly exasperated the townsfolk by impressing seamen 
from vessels entering the harbor, and in taking men 
from boats and other small craft plying in the bay. 
The climax of these outrages was reached when a 
brig from Africa, entering Newport harbor, was 
stopped by the Maidstone and her entire crew im- 
pressed. That night a crowd of about five hundred 
men and boys seized one of the Maidstone's boats 
lying at the wharf, and, dragging it through the 



streets to the Common, burned it in front of the 
courthouse amid the derisive shouts of the people. 
" This affair was so suddenly concocted and carried 
into effect that the authorities had no time to inter- 
fere." x 

Five years after this occurrence, or in 1769, the 
commissioners of customs sent Captain Eeid to New- 
port, in the armed sloop Liberty, who exhibited ex- 
traordinary zeal and unnecessary arrogance in car- 
rying out his instructions. While cruising in Long 
Island Sound, July 17, 1769, Eeid seized a brig and 
a sloop belonging to Connecticut and brought them 
into Newport. Captain Packwood, of the brig, had 
duly reported his cargo, and had conformed to all the 
requirements of law. After waiting two days, and 
finding that no proceedings had been instituted 
against him, he went aboard the Liberty, and Cap- 
tain Eeid being ashore at the time some difficulty 
took place between Packwood and the men in the 
Liberty which resulted in several musket shots being 
fired at Packwood's boat as it was returning shore- 
ward. Exasperated by this unwarrantable proceed- 
ing the people of Newport boarded the Liberty, cut 
her cables, and allowed her to drift ashore near Long 
Wharf. At that place they again boarded her, cut 
away her masts, and threw her armament overboard. 
On the returning high tide she drifted to Goat 
Island, and on the following night a party from New- 
port burned her. 2 

In March, 1772, Lieutenant William Dudingston, 
in the armed schooner Gaspti, made his appearance 
in Narragansett Bay, and soon proved himself to be 
even more exacting than his predecessors. "He 
stopped all vessels, including small market boats, 
without showing his authority for doing so; and 
even sent the property he had illegally seized to 
Boston for trial, contrary to an act of Parliament 

* John Russell Barttett. * For map see page 96. 


which required such trials to be held in the coloiues 
where the seizures were made." l Suit was begun 
against Dudingston by the owners of one of these 
cargoes, Jacob Greene & Co., of Warwick, in July, 
1772, which resulted in a judgment against the 
British officer. Complaints of these proceedings 
were duly made, and Joseph Wanton, colonial Gov- 
ernor of Ehode Island, sent a number of letters to 
Rear- Admiral John Montagu, at Boston, protesting 
against the outrages, which, however, only elicited 
an arrogant reply from the admiral, who said: "I 
shall report your two insolent letters to my officer 
[Lieutenant Dudingston] to his majesty's secre* 
taries of state, and leave to them to determine what 
right you have to demand a sight of all orders I 
shall give to officers of my squadron; and I would 
advise you not to send your sheriff on board the 
king's ship again on such ridiculous errands, . . . 
I am also informed the people of Newport talk of 
fitting out an armed vessel to rescue any vessel the 
king's schooner may take carrying on an illicit 
trade. Let them be cautious what they do, for as 
sure as they attempt it, and any of them are taken, 
I will hang them as pirates." Dudingston evidently 
realized that many of his seizures were illegal, for he 
feared to venture ashore, as many suits at law were 
threatened against him by the owners of goods and 
vessels he had taken. The suit brought by Jacob 
Greene & Co. was instituted after Dudingston had 
been taken ashore by the captors of the Gasp6. 

Affairs were in this critical state when, on June 9, 
1772, the packet Hannah, Captain Benjamin Lindsey, 
left Newport for Providence. Soon after meridian 
the Gasp6 gave chase and ordered the packet to come 
to. Lindsey refused, and, favored by the wind, led 
the schooner a 25-mile race up the bay. When 
off "Namquit Point, which runs off from the 

* John Bussell Bartiett. 

46 BBanramra HOSTILITIES. 1772. 

farm in Warwick, about seven miles below Provi- 
dence, now owned by Mr. John Brown Francis, our 
late Governor," l the Hannah stood westward, while 
the Gasp6, in close pursuit, changed her course and 
grounded on the Point. " Lindsey continued on his 
course up the river and arrived at Providence about 
sunset, when he immediately informed Mr. John 
Brown, one of our first and most respectable mer- 
chants, of the situation of the Gasp6. He [Brown] 
immediately concluded that she would remain im- 
movable until after midnight [as the tide was be- 
ginning to ebb], and that now an opportunity offered 
of putting an end to the trouble and vexation she 
daily caused. Mr. Brown immediately resolved on 
her destruction, and he forthwith directed one of his 
trusty shipmasters to collect eight of the largest 
longboats in the harbor, with five oars each; to have 
the oars and rowlocks well muffled, to prevent noise, 
and to place them at Fenner ? s Wharf, directly oppo- 
site the dwelling of Mr. James Sabin, who kept a 
house of board and entertainment for gentlemen. 
. . . About the time of shutting-up of shops, soon 
after sunset, a man pased along the main street 
beating a drum, and informing the inhabitants of 
the fact that the Gaspe was aground on Namquit 
Point and would not float off until three o'clock the 
next morning, and inviting those persons who felt 
disposed to go and destroy that troublesome vessel 
to repair in the evening to Mr. James Sabin's house. 
About nine o'clock, I took my father's gun and my 
powderhorn and bullets and went to Mr. Sabin's and 
found the southeast room full of people, where I 
loaded my gun, and all remained there till about ten 
o'clock, some casting bullets in the kitchen and 
others making arrangements for departure, when 
orders were given to cross the street to Fenner's 

1 Account of Colonel Bphraim Bowen, the last survivor of the men 
who made the attack on the &a&p&, written August 29, 1839. 

1772. ATTACK ON THE GASPfi. 47 

Wharf and embark, which soon took place, and a 
sea captain acted as steersman of each boat." I 

Abraham Whipple was chosen commander of the 
enterprise, having as his lieutenant John Burroughs 

Captain Abraham Whipple. 
From a painting in possession of the B. I. Historical Society. 

Hopkins, both of whom afterward became captains 
in the Continental navy. Others known to have 
taken part in the attempt were John Brown, Ben- 

1 Account of Ephiaim Bowen. 

4:8 BEGiraOffa HOSTILITIES. 1772. 

jamin Dunn, Samuel Dunn, Joseph Bucklin, Dr. John 

Mawney, Dickenson, Benjamin Page, Tur- 

pin Smith, Joseph Tillinghast, and Simeon H. Olney. 
Dr. Mawney wrote, in 1826: "I went to Corlis's 
Wharf with Captain Joseph Tillinghast, who com- 
manded the barge, it being the last boat that put 
off. In going down we stopped at Captain Cooke's 
Wharf, where we took in staves and paying stones; 
which done, we followed our commander [Whipple], 
and came up with them a considerable distance 
down the river." 

When the party came in sight of the Gaspe, Whip- 
pie formed his boats in a line abreast, taking the 
immediate command on the right, while Hopkins 
had charge of the left. Whipple arranged his attack 
so as to approach directly upon the bow of the Gasp6, 
where she could not bring a gun to bear. "We 
rowed gently along," continues Dr. Mawney, "till 
we got near the schooner, when we were hailed from 
on board with the words: 

" < Who comes there? ' 

"Captain Whipple replied: 

" ' I want to come on board.' 

"The reply was: 

" t Stand off! You can't come on board.' 

" On which Whipple roared out: 

" ' I am the sheriff of the County of Kent; I am 
come for the commander of this vessel, and I will 
have him, dead or alive. Men, spring to your oars! ' " 

According to other reliable accounts Whipple, in 
this brief parley, emphasized his words with a re- 
markable amount of real sailor-like pc^fanity, possi- 
bly with a view of concealing his identify^ By this 
time Dudingston had appeared on deck in his shirt 
sleeves and ordered the boats to keep away, and on 
their persistent approach discharged his pistol, 
while several of his men also fired. Colonel Bowen 
says: " I took my seat on the main thwart, near the 
larboard [port] rowlock, with my gun by my right 



Ss a 

js 3 





side, facing forward. As soon as Dudingston began 
to hall, Joseph Bucklin, who was standing on the 
main thwart, by my right side, said to me: 'Ephe, 
reach me your gun and I can kill that fellow.' I 
reached it to him accordingly, when, during Captain 
Whipple's replying, Bucklin fired and Dudingston 
fell, and Bucklin exclaimed: 'I have killed the 
rascal! ' [The ball shattered the lieutenant's arm 
and lodged in his groin.] In less than a minute 
after Captain Whipple's reply the boats were along- 
side the Gaspe and [we] boarded without opposi- 
tion. The men on deck retreated below as Duding- 
ston entered the cabin." 

Dr. Mawney thus describes the boarding of the 
Gasp6: "We were in an instant under her bows. I 
was then sitting with Captain Tillinghast in the 
stern of the barge and sprang immediately forward, 
and seeing a rope hang down her b9ws seized it to 
help myself in. The rope slipping, I fell almost to 
my waist in the water, but being nimble and active I 
recovered, and was the first of our crew on deck, 
when Simeon H. Olney handed me a stave, with 
which, seeing one [man] that I took to be of the 
crew of the schooner floundering below the wind- 
lass, I was in the attitude of a leveling stroke, when 
he cried out: ' John, don't strike! ' Being very in- 
timately acquainted with Captain Samuel Dunn, I 
knew his voice, left him, and sprang back of the 
windlass, where there was commotion and noise, 
but which soon subsided. The crew jumping down 
the hold, I immediately followed, when I ordered 
them to. bring cords to tie their hands with, and 
told them they should not be hurt, but be sent on 
shore. They brought some tarred strings, with 
which I tied the hands of two, when John Brown, 
Esq., called to me, saying I was wanted immedi- 
ately on deck, where I was instantly helped. When 
I asked Mr. Brown what the matter was he re- 
plied, ' Don't call names, but go immediately into 


the cabin; there is one wounded and will bleed to 
death.' I hastened into the cabin and found Lieu- 
tenant Dudingston in a sitting posture, gently re- 
clining to the left, bleeding profusely, with a thin 
white woolen blanket loose about him, which I threw 
aside, and discovered the effect of a musket ball in 
his left groin. Thinking the femoral artery was 
cut, I threw open my waistcoat, and taking my shirt 
by the collar tore it to my waistband. Mr. Duding- 
ston said: 'Pray, sir, don't tear your clothes; there 
is linen in that trunk.' Upon which I requested 
Joseph Bucklin to break open the trunk and tear 
the linen and scrape lint, which he immediately at- 
tempted, but, finding the linen new and strong, could 
not make lint." Discovering that dawn was rapidly 
aproaching Dr. Mawney tore the linen into strips, 
and, bandaging Dudingston as well as he could, 
placed him in one of the boats where the other pris- 
oners had been 'collected. After setting fire to the 
Gasp6 so that she burned to the water's edge and 
blew up, the boats returned to Providence, landing 
the prisoners at Pawtuxet. 

This affair caused great excitement, the British 
Government offering a reward of one thousand 
pounds for the apprehension of the leader of the at- 
tack and five hundred pounds for any of the partici- 
pants, at the same time promising pardon to any one 
who would make disclosures. No one was found 
willing to give the desired information, although a 
special commission sat for this purpose from January 
to June, 1773. All those taking part in the affair were 
more or less disguised at the time. 

This spirited attack was followed, in June, 1773, by 
the famous " Boston Tea Party." This was somewhat 
in the nature of a private maritime enterprise. One 
of the measures adopted by England to coerce the 
colonists was to place a heavy tax on tea. The latter 
evaded it by agreeing not to import or use the article, 
the result being that the merchandise soon accumu- 




lated in the warehouses of the East India Company. 
At Charleston the people caused the tea to be stored 
in damp cellars, where it spoiled, while the New York- 

The "Boston Tea Party." 
From an old print 

ers and Philadelphians compelled some ships to re- 
turn without unloading. 

Three cargoes arrived at Boston which the people 
endeavored also to send back, but the Crown officials 
refused to give the necessary clearances. Determined 
to prevent the landing of the offensive article, a num- 
ber of the inhabitants, disguised as Indians, on the 
night of December 17, 1773, suddenly appeared on 
the wharf, took possession of the ships, and, opening 
the hatches, broke open the chests and poured the 
tea into the bay. Three hundred and forty-two chests 
of tea were destroyed in this way. 




The first sea fight after the battle of Bunker Hill 
was that between the captured schooner Unity and 
the British armed cutter Margaretta, Lieutenant 
Moore. The rapid concentration of troops in Boston 
made it necessary for the enemy to provide addi- 
tional barracks, and for the purpose of securing lum- 
ber for these buildings the British ordered two small 
vessels, about eighty tons each, belonging to Ichabod 
Jones, of Boston, under the convoy of the Margaretta, 
to Machias, 1 "the extreme easterly outpost of the 

Birthplace of Colonel Jeremiah O'Brien, near Machias, Maine. 
From a, photograph. 

colonists; and being the only point in all the region 
beyond the Penobscot, and between it and the St. 
Croix, at which any considerable number of white 
men have found lodgment, in a region which had 
lately become safe from aboriginal and French in- 
cursions, they were in many respects seemingly un- 

1 According to the account of John O'Brien, one of the participants, 
the lumber wanted was " pickets and planks, to be used by the English in 
the defense of Boston." 


recognized, and apparently almost without the pale 
of colonial jurisdiction." 1 

The Margaretta, with her convoy, arrived at the 
mouth of the Machias Eiver June 2, 1775, and on June 
3d Lieutenant Moore circulated a paper among the in- 
habitants for signatures "as a prequisite to their 
obtaining supplies of any provisions," 2 of which the 
people were in great need. According to the terms of 
this paper, or contract, the inhabitants were to " in- 
dulge Captain Jones in carrying lumber to Boston, 
and to protect him and his property at all events." 
On June 6th the people held a meeting and decided 
not to grant his request for lumber, upon which Jones 
reported the matter to Moore, who caused the sloop 
and the Margaretta to anchor near the village, where 
his guns would command the houses. This had the 
effect of changing the attitude of the inhabitants, to 
the extent that a majority voted to allow Jones to get 
the lumber and to permit the citizens individually 
to purchase provisions. But there were many who 
voted against this resolution. 

Upon learning of this decision Jones brought his 
lumber vessels up to the wharf and distributed the 
provisions only among those who had voted in his 
favor. This gave offense to those who were denied 
provisions, and they determined to seize Jones and 
put a stop to his mission of securing lumber. 8 Vague 
rumors of the fight at Lexington had reached this out- 
post of civilization, and the arrival of these vessels 
in quest of this particular kind of lumber confirmed 
the news in the minds of the townsfolk. But Lieu- 
tenant Moore, under the impression that these people 
were ignorant of that occurrence, was. careful to con- 

1 GK W. Balch. * Official report of the Machias Committee of Safety. 

* Nearly all the popular accounts of the Margaretta fight have omitted 
these important preliminary details, leaving it to he inferred that the 
Crown vessels, with their convoy, arrived at Machias June 10th or llth. 
The Above account is taken from the official report of the Machias Com- 
mittee of Safety. 


ceal all information on the subject. Soon after his 
arrival he assumed an arrogant tone, and took excep- 
tion to the liberty pole which the inhabitants had 
erected on the village green. " He said it must be 
taken down or the town would be fired upon. A Mr. 
Stephen Jones was present, and, owning a store in 
Machias, had considerable weight with the people. 

O'Brien's Brook, near Machias, Maine, where the patriots held 

their secret meetings. 

From a photograph. 

He advised Moore to suspend his determination until 
the people could assemble a town meeting; perhaps 
the town would agree to take down the liberty pole. 
The town met, as was proposed, and voted not to take 
it down. Mr. Jones, who was in considerable favor 
with the English commander, persuaded him to defer 
execution of his threat until a second town meeting 
could be called, it being stated that the first was not 
fully attended." l 

Anticipating that there would be trouble over the 
liberty pole the inhabitants of Machias secretly sent 
word to Pleasant Eiver village, about twenty miles 
distant, and to a few other settlements within reach, 
asking for reinforcements. Before this aid could 

1 Account of John O'Brien, one oi the participants in the affair. 


come the people had held another meeting a secret 
one on Sunday, June llth, in the woods at the back 
of the settlement, at which the project of capturing 
the Crown boat and her convoy was discussed. After 
some talk Benjamin Foster, of Bast Falls, Machias 
Pizarro-like stepped across a brook near by and 
called upon all, who would take part in an attempt, 
to follow him. He was promptly supported by the 
sturdy men at the gathering, and Foster was dele- 
gated to proceed to East Machias to secure a 
schooner lying there, which was well adapted for the 

Meantime Moore and Ichabod Jones, with several 
of their men, ignorant of the fact that a secret meeting 
was being held, had attended religious service in the 
meetinghouse. Some of the villagers, in anticipation 
of trouble, carried their guns to church, but took care 
to keep them out of sight, John O'Brien concealing 
his under a board. He observed Moore when the 
latter entered the edifice, and took a seat directly be- 
hind the British officer. In the course of the service 
Moore happened to look out of the open window, and 
he saw up the river, at a distance of about half a mile, 
a number of men crossing the stream on logs, holding 
guns in their hands. 1 These were the reinforcements 
coming from Pleasant Eiver village. The English 
commander at once surmised their object and realized 
the peril of his situation. At that time the meeting- 
house was unfinished and there were no pews, the con- 
gregation using temporary benches. 2 Making his 
way over these seats Moore reached a window, jumped 
out, and managed to make his way to his vessel, then 
anchored at White's Point. Ichabod Jones took to 
the woods, where he secreted himself several days. 
Stephen Jones, who also was at the meeting, was 
taken prisoner and held under guard. 

1 Account of John O'Brien, one of the participants. 
.Collections of the Maine Historical Society. 


The temper of these Maine people is touchingly 
shown by an incident that occurred the following day. 
The men who came from Pleasant Biver were short 
of powder, having only two or three charges each. 
It appears that one of them, Josiah Weston, of Jones- 
boro, forgot his powderhorn. His wife Hannah, after 
his departure, noticed the oversight, and, following the 
trail through the woods, reached Machias on the next 
day with the precious article. In this plucky tramp 
through the woods, Mrs. Weston was accompanied 
by her husband's sister, Miss Rebecca Weston, a frail 
girl fifteen years old. Mrs. Weston herself was in her 
seventeenth year and had been married five months. 
The powder, which was carried in a bag, weighed 
forty pounds. " There were no roads or bridges, and 
the two girls followed spots on trees, coming out on 
Machias Eiver, where Whitneyville now is, and fol- 
lowed the river to Machias." * 

After sending word to the inhabitants that he 
would burn the town if they persisted in their hostile 
demonstrations, Moore dropped the Margaretta be- 
low the Narrows. Notwithstanding his threat the 
Americans seized the sloop Unity 9 and forty of the 
men of Machias went aboard her, while another party 
took the second sloop and brought her up to the 
wharf, " On examining their equipments of warfare, 
only twenty guns could be produced, many of which 
were mere fowling pieces, carrying scatter shot, and 
of powder, ball, and shot there were no more than 
three rounds to each firearm. The remaining weapons 
consisted of thirteen pitchforks, a few scythes, and 
ten or twelve axes." 2 The Margaretta was armed 
with four 3-pounders and fourteen swivels. Only two 
of the Machias men had ever seen military service; 
they were Morris O'Brien and Benjamin Poster, both 
of whom had served in the expedition against Louis- 

1 Collections of the Maine Historical Society. 
8 G. W. Balch, a descendant of Morris O'Brien. 


burg. Morris was now incapacitated by extreme 
age. Jeremiah O'Brien, then thirty-one years old, 
a son of Morris O'Brien, was chosen commander 
of the Unity, and Edmund Stevens was made his 

While this had been going on a number of the in- 
habitants had gathered on the highland overlooking 
the Margaretta's refuge near the Narrows, and threat- 
ened to attack if she did not surrender. Receiving 
for answer " fire and be damned," they opened fire, 
which Moore returned, but finding himself at a disad- 
vantage again got under way, and, running into a bay, 
anchored near the confluence of two streams. Here 
he lashed the Margaretta alongside a small sloop com- 
manded by a Mr. Toby, whom Moore compelled to 
come aboard the Crown cutter and act as pilot. 

It was not until Monday morning, June 12th, that 
the patriots were ready to make sail in pursuit, when 
the Unity, followed by the second lumber craft hav- 
ing twenty men under the command of Benjamin Pos- 
ter aboard, got under way. Observing the approach 
of the Americans, Moore again weighed anchor and 
maneuvered so as to avoid a collision. In this effort 
his vessel lost her boom and gaff, whereupon he ran 
into Holmes Bay, and, taking a spar and all the pro- 
visions, together with Eobert Avery, of Norwich, Con- 
necticut, out of a craft he met coming in from the 
Bay of Fundy, repaired his injury. 

While this work was going on the Americans 
again drew near, and to avoid them Moore stood out 
to sea. " During the chase our people built their 
breastworks [bulwarks] of pine boards, and any- 
thing they could find in the vessels that would screen 
them from the enemy's fire." l Finding that the 
Americans were not only following him, but were 
rapidly gaining, Lieutenant Moore cut away his 

1 Letter of Maohias Committee of Safety to the " Honorable Congress 
of Massachusetts Bay," June 14, 1775. 


boats, and as this did not enable him to hold his dis- 
tance he, when "at the entrance of our harbor," 1 
began firing, one of his shots killing an American. 
This fire was answered by one of the volunteers 
named Knight, who discharged his " wall piece " 
a musket too heavy to fire offhand, needing the 
support of a "wall," but in this instance prob- 
ably the "breastwork" or bulwark killing the 
English helmsman, an impressed seaman, and clear- 
ing the poop of men. The two craft quickly came 
together, when a sharp fire of small arms was 
opened. Moore made a gallant defense, throwing 
personally a number of hand grenades and with 
great effect, until he was shot through the breast 
with a brace of musket balls. The unfortunate Mr. 
Avery also was killed. A British midshipman named 
Stillingfleet became terrified and secreted himself 
below. * 

The Americans now boarded and soon obtained 
possession of the cutter, the action having lasted " for 
near the space of an hour." The first man to board 
was John O'Brien, brother of Jeremiah, and the sec- 
ond was Joseph Getchell, On the part of the Ameri- 
cans one was killed and six were wounded, 2 one of 
the latter afterward dying. The enemy had four men 
killed and about ten wounded, 8 one mortally, her 
commander, who died in the village the next day. 
For this brilliant affair the Colonial Council, then in 
session at Cambridge, tendered Jeremiah O'Brien a 
vote of thanks and gave him the custody of his prizes. 
The Margaretta was brought back to port and her 
armament was transferred to the Unity. " We pur- 
pose," wrote the Machias Committee of Safety, " to 
convey the prisoners to Pownalborough Gaol as soon 
as possible." 

1 Massachusetts Archives. 

* Official report of the Machias Committee of Safety. 

* Letter of Joseph Wheaton to John O'Brien. Wheaton was one o: 
the Americans participating. 


There has been confusion in some accounts of this 
affair as to which O'Brien commanded the Unity. In- 
quiring of Miss Annetta O'Brien Walker, a descend- 
ant of Morris O'Brien, the author learns that it un- 
questionably was Jeremiah who had the honor. The 
confusion very naturally arises from the fact that 
there were six O'Briens in the fight, three of them 
having the letter " J " as their initial, As many of 
the early records give only the first letter, J," to 
the commander, doubt easily arose as to which 
O'Brien was intended. The six brothers were Jere- 
miah, Gideon, Joseph, Dennis, John, and William. 
Their father, Morris, came from Dublin, Ireland, in 
1740, and settled in Scarboro', 1 then in Massachu- 
setts. About 1760 the family moved to Machias on 
account of the facilities there offered in the lumber 
business. 2 They built and owned sawmills. The 
gunboat Machias, of our present navy, was named for 
the town where the fight took place. 

The news of this fight greatly enraged British 
navy officials, and about a month later they sent two 
armed sloops, the Diligence and the Tapanagouche, or 
Tapuaquish, from Halifax to punish the audacious 
Yankees. These sloops carried eight guns and fifty 
men for the first and sixteen swivels for the last. 
Hearing of their approach, O'Brien sailed from Ma- 
chias with the Unity and the coasting vessel Portland 
Packet, commanded by Benjamin Foster, to anticipate 
them. They met July 12, 1775, in the Bay of Fundy, 
and by attacking them separately the Americans took 
both and brought them in triumph to Watertown. 
For this truly brilliant affair O'Brien was made a 
captain in the Massachusetts State marine, and with 
his last two prizes, which he named Machias Liberty 
and Diligence, he went out to cruise after British 
transports, O'Brien commanding the Machias Liberty 

1 Maine* Historical Society collections. 
Annetta O'Brien Walker to the author. 


and a Mr. Lambert the Diligence. Under their new 
commanders these vessels were highly successful. On 
August 9, 1775, they recaptured a schooner that had 
fallen into the hands of the enemy, and also a cutter 
and two barges, with thirty-five men, under the com- 
mand of a lieutenant of the British sloop of war 
Falcon, that were operating in Gloucester Bay. In 
this capture the Americans had one man killed and 
two wounded. 

These maritime successes so exasperated Admiral 
Graves, then commander on the North American 

station, that he sent out a 
squadron of four war ves- 
sels under Captain Mowatt 
to " overawe " the colonists. 
Mowatt destroyed the town 
of Falmouth, Maine (now 
Portland), in October, com- 
pelling many women and 
children to seek cover in 
hastily constructed huts at 
the beginning of the severe 
northern winter. Among 
these children was Edward 
Preble, then only fourteen 
years old. Later in life he became famous as a cap- 
tain in our navy. The Machias Liberty and Diligence 
continued to cruise off the New England coast for 
a year and a half, when they were laid up. Captain 
O'Brien afterward entered the privateer service, 
commanding the armed ships Little Vincent, Cyrus, 
and Tiger, of New Hampshire, Late in September, 
1777, he captured off Cape Negro a vessel from Ire- 
land laden with pork for the British army. This 
craft had been taken by an American privateer, was 
recaptured by the British cruiser Scarborough, and 
was again seized by Captain O'Brien. 1 

1 Kidder's Eastern Maine. 


Later in the war Jeremiah, with his brother John 
and several others, built at Newburyport a ship 
called the Hannibal, carrying twenty guns and a com- 
plement of one hundred and thirty men. On her first 
cruise, to Port au Prince, she was commanded by 
John O'Brien. Eeturning from this voyage with sev- 
eral prizes, the Hannibal was under the command of 
Jeremiah O'Brien. Meeting with varied success in a 
cruise of considerable length the Hannibal, in 1780, 
was captured, after a chase of forty-eight hours, by 
two British frigates which were escorting a fleet of 
merchantmen in the vicinity of New York. Captain 
O'Brien and his men were taken into that port and 
were confined in the ill-famed prison ship Jersey, 
where they were subjected to great hardship. After 
six months of imprisonment the Hannibal's crew was 
exchanged, with the exception of Captain O'Brien, 
who it seems, by orders from England, was reserved 
for the special malice of the British Government 
He was transported to England and thrown into 
Mill Prison, and made the object of personal ill treat- 

Notwithstanding the careful watch kept on him, 
O'Brien managed to effect his escape. The story of 
this exploit, as told by his brother John, is as fol- 
lows : " He purposely neglected his dress and whole 
personal appearance for a month. The afternoon be- 
fore making his escape he shaved and dressed in 
decent clothes, so as to alter very much his personal 
appearance, and walked out with the other prisoners 
in the jail yard. Having secreted himself under a 
platform in the yard, and thus escaping the notice of 
the keepers at the evening round-up, he was left out 
of the cells after they were locked for the night. He 
escaped from the yard by passing through the prin- 
cipal keeper's house in the dusk of the evening. Al- 
though he made a little stay in the barroom of the 
house, he was not detected, being taken for a British 
soldier. In company with a Captain Lyon and an- 


other American who also had escaped from the prison 
and were concealed somewhere in the vicinity, he 
crossed the English Channel to France in a boat and 
thence came to America," jnst about the time hostili- 
ties ceased. He lived to see the second war with 
Great Britain, but at that time was too old to become 
an active participant. One of our new torpedo boats 
is named O'Brien in honor of Jeremiah O'Brien. 

While his brother was confined in British prisons, 
John O'Brien had purchased the fast-sailing brig 
Hibernia, carrying six 3-pounders and sixty men. He 
Bailed from Newburyport in this vessel June 9, 1779, 
and on the 21st captured an English brig and sent 
her into port. About noon, June 25th, Captain John 
O'Brien discovered a large ship, and rapidly coming 
up with her opened fire about three o'clock in the 
afternoon. The stranger was the British cruiser 
General Patiison, Lieutenant Chiene, from New York 
for England, carrying, besides her regular comple- 
ment, a number of British officers homeward bound. 
She was armed with 6- and 9-pounders. After a de- 
sultory cannonading, lasting from three to five o'clock 
in the afternoon, Captain O'Brien drew off, feeling 
satisfied that the enemy was too strong to be taken. 
In this affair the Americans had three men killed and 
several wounded, 1 the loss of the enemy being un- 

Scarcely had the Hibernia hauled off from the 
General Pattison when a British frigate hove in sight 
and gave the Americans a hard chase until midnight, 
when she desisted. Continuing her cruise, the Hi- 
beruia, on July 7th, took a schooner which was sent 
into Newburyport. Three days later she fell in with 
the 12-gun privateer Polly 9 of Salem, Massachusetts, 
Captain J. Leach. Leach was a successful privateers- 
man throughout the war. In September, 1776, while 
in command of the private armed schooner DolpMn, 

1 Log of the Eilerwia. 


carrying only eight swivels and twenty-five men, he 
captured the brig Royal George, with a cargo of pro- 
visions, and also a sloop laden with fish. Before 
Leach got the Dolphin she was commanded by Gap- 
tain Daniel Waters. In September, 1778, Leach was 
captain of the 6-gun sloop Happy Return. That ves- 
sel captured one brig and two sloops laden with fustic 
and rum. 

At the time Captain Leach fell in with the 
Eilernia, July 10, 1779, he was in command of the 
fine 12-gun sloop Polly, carrying, besides her main 
guns, eight swivels and one hundred men. The Polly 
had been hanging on the outskirts of a fleet of mer- 
chantmen, and shortly after the two privateers came 
together the fleet hove in sight, convoyed by a small 
cruiser. The American privateers, after some adroit 
maneuvering, captured a ship carrying thirteen 4- 
pounders, a brig, and a schooner laden with molasses. 
On the following day the Hibernia took a hermaphro- 
dite brig in ballast, and being incumbered with 
prisoners Captain John O'Brien placed them aboard 
her, with permission to make their most convenient 
port. On the same day, July llth, he gave chase to 
another brig and captured her. " Had not Captain 
Leach been parted from me in the fog we could have 
taken the whole fleet." 1 The Hilernia then returned 
to port with her rich prizes. The Polly, in the follow- 
ing month, took a brig laden with tobacco. In 1782 
Captain Leach commanded the privateer St. Mary's, 
a brig of one hundred and twenty-eight men. 

A number of spirited affairs like that of the Mar- 
garetta took place at the outbreak of the Revolution, 
the result of private enterprise. From an English 
source we get the following account of an audacious 
attack on British transports by an American priva- 
teer: "On the 23d of November, 1775, a small fleet 
of transports under the convoy of the frigate Tartar 

1 Journal of Captain John O'Brien, 


arrived off Boston, and, with the exception of two, 
safely entered the port. The ship Hunter and a brig, 
owing to a shift in the wind, were obliged to anchor 
outside the harbor, which, being observed by two 
American privateers that had been following the con- 
voy, they, in the most daring manner, attacked and 
boarded them, setting them on fire. A signal was 
immediately made for the Raven to weigh anchor 
and go in chase, but Lieutenant John Bourmaster, 
who had been appointed to protect Boston Light- 
house, then under repair, and who was in command 
of an armed transport, on observing the privateers 
fire upon the Hunter, set sail and reached the trans- 
ports in time to save them from destruction." 

In April, 1775, several whaleboats under the com- 
mand of one N. Smith captured the British schooner 
Volante in Martha's Vineyard. The Volante was a 
tender to the British frigate Scarborough,Qne of whose 
prizes, as we have just seen, was captured by Cap- 
tain Jeremiah O'Brien. In December of the same 
year four boats under the command of James Bar- 
ron, afterward a captain in the navy, captured a Brit- 
ish tender in Chesapeake Bay. A whaleboat carry- 
ing three swivels and twenty-two men, under the com- 
mand of one B. Bormer, in the same year seized an 
English sloop mounting six guns, and afterward re- 
captured two prizes off Ocracoke Inlet, North Caro- 

From November 13, 1775, to the evacuation of 
Boston by the British, March 17, 1776, thirty-one Eng- 
lish vessels, while endeavoring to gain port, were cap- 
tured by the vigilant Americans. In this period there 
were only a few State cruisers in commission off 
Boston, so that a good share of these captures must 
be credited to private enterprise. General Washing- 
ton, on his own responsibility, borrowed two vessels 
from Massachusetts and sent them into the Gulf of 
St. Lawrence to intercept military supplies consigned 
to the enemy. These were the schooners Lynch and 


Franklin, the first carrying six guns, ten swivels, and 
seventy men, under the command of Captain Nicholas 
Broughton; and the second carrying four guns, ten 
swivels, and sixty men, commanded by Captain John 
Selman. When first commissioned the Lynch was 
commanded by Captain John Ayres, her first and sec- 
ond officers being John Roche and John Tiley. From 
the circumstance of all her officers bearing the same 
first name, this craft was jokingly dubbed The Three 
Johns. Ayres soon was succeeded by John Selman 
as commander, so that the nickname of the boat was 
in no way disturbed. 

The Lynch and Franklin were highly successful, 
notwithstanding the fact that their commanders 
missed their way to the St. Lawrence and brought 
up in the Bay of Fundy. In the fall of 1775 they made 
ten prizes and captured Governor Wright, of St. 
John's. " All of the vessels were released, however," 
wrote Elbridge Gerry to John Adams, " as we had 
waged a ministerial war, and not one against our most 
gracious Sovereign." In the spring of 1776 the Frank- 
lin, then commanded by Captain James Mugford, cap- 
tured the ship Hope and brought her safely into port. 
She was laden with fifteen hundred barrels of gun- 
powder, a large quantity of intrenching tools, gun 
carriages, and other stores which were intended for 
the British army, all of which were duly forwarded 
to the troops under Washington a sufficient com- 
mentary on his wisdom in sending such craft to sea. 

The American commander in chief also sent out 
the little cruisers Lee and Harrison, issuing their com- 
missions with his own hand. The Lee was commanded 
by Captain Daniel Waters, her first and second offi- 
cers being Eichard Stiles and Nicholas Ogilby; while 
the Harrison was under the orders of Captain Charles 
Dyar, her first and second officers being Thomas Dote 
and John Wigglesworth. The Lee belonged to the 
State of Massachusetts, and while under the com- 
mand of Captain John Manly made one of the most 


important captures of the war. On November 29, 
1775, she entered Cape Ann Roads with her prize, the 
Nancy, the latter being laden with two thousand mus- 
kets and bayonets, eight thousand fuses, thirty-one 
tons of musket shots, three thousand rounds of shot 
for 12-pounders, a 13-inch mortar, two 6-pounders, 
several barrels of powder, and fifty " carcasses," or 
great frames for combustibles, designed for the pur- 
pose of setting buildings on fire. 

On December 8th this cruiser captured three ves- 
sels: the Jenny, carrying two guns, a crew of twenty 
men, and a cargo of provisions; the Concord, with a 
cargo of dry goods, and the Hannah, a brig, with a 
cargo of rum. These vessels were not taken without 
a fierce struggle with a fourth, the convoying ship, 
which, though mounting eight guns, was finally 
beaten off. The prizes were brought into port, and 
the Hannah's cargo alone netted twenty-five thousand 
dollars to her captors. On the same day the Harrison 
captured the schooner Industry and the sloop Polly. 
Soon after this lucky stroke she was chased into 
Gloucester by the British cruiser Falcon. By running 
close inshore the Lee inflicted considerable injury on 
her pursuer and escaped. This is the second unlucky 
experience we have noted the Falcon as having with 
Americans, for in this same bay the Falcon's boats 
were repulsed in an attempt to take one of Captain 
Jeremiah O'Brien's prizes. For these valuable serv- 
ices Manly received a commission, April 17, 1776, as 
captain in the Continental navy, and the command 
of the 32-gun frigate Hancock was given to him. 1 

On the retirement of Manly from the command of 
the Lee, Captain Waters, as has been noted, assumed 
charge of that cruiser. Early on the morning of June 
17, 1776, the Lee, in company with three small priva- 
teers out of New England ports, fell in with two 

1 For Manl/s subsequent brilliant career in this -war see Chapter XY, 
" Captain John Manly." 


heavily armed British transports, the Annabella and 
the Howe, and immediately began a running fight 
with them, the enemy putting on all sail to escape. 
They finally evaded the Americans by running into 
Nantasket Koads. 

Toward evening the Americans met the Massa- 
chusetts State cruiser Defense, Captain Seth Harding, 
which had sailed from Plymouth that morning, and, 
being attracted by the heavy firing, drew toward the 
scene of hostilities. An arrangement was soon made 
between Harding, Waters, and the privateersmen, 
and about eleven o'clock the Defense boldly ran into 
the Eoads, and getting between the two transports, 
within pistol-shot distance, Harding called upon the 
British to strike their colors. A voice from one of 
the troopships was heard, in reply, "Ay, ay I'll 
strike," and a broadside was poured into the Defense. 
The Americans promptly responded, and after an 
hour of heavy firing the British called for quarter. 
The transports were found to have on board about 
two hundred regulars of the Seventy-first Regiment. 
Among the prisoners was Lieutenant Campbell. 
Eighteen of the Englishmen had been killed in the 
action and a larger number were wounded. On the 
part of the Americans not one was killed and only 
nine were injured. Among the British dead was 
Major M6nzies, who had answered the summons to 
surrender with "Ay, ay HI strike." Lieutenant 
Campbell afterward was exchanged, was again cap- 
tured by our sea forces, and finally, having attained 
the rank of lieutenant-colonel, distinguished him- 
self in the southern campaigns against Greene. 

On the following morning the Americans discov- 
ered another sail in the offing, which was chased, and 
on being captured proved to be the transport John 
and George, carrying six guns and having on board 
one hundred soldiers of the same regiment. By 
this daring stroke the private armed vessels cap- 
tured three hundred men of one of the best English 


regiments in America. The Defense, in 1779, was lost 
in the ill-fated Penobscot expedition. 

Some of the other States also fitted out cruisers 
at the outbreak of hostilities. On November 14, 1775, 
Clement Lemprtere was placed in command of the 
South Carolina ship Prosper. On the llth of the same 
month the armed schooner Defense, also belonging 
to that State, while sinking some hulks in Hog Island 
Creek, Charleston harbor, was fired on by the British 
16-gun ship Tamar and the 6-gun schooner Cherokee. 
On December 21, 1775, North Carolina authorized the 
equipment of three armed vessels for the protection 
of her coast trade. She also armed the sloop Sally for 
river defense, Virginia early established a board of 
commissioners to superintend her naval affairs. 

That all our private maritime enterprises were not 
successful is shown by British records. From 1774 
to 1776 the enemy claim to have captured the follow- 
ing vessels belonging to the rebelling colonies: 
The BeUsarius, of twenty guns; the Hussar, of twenty- 
four guns; the Sullivan, of eighteen guns; the Tobago, 
of twelve guns, and the Warren. These vessels no- 
where appear in American records; but although 
some of them, while classed in British accounts under 
the general head " American," doubtless belonged to 
other North American colonies aside from the thir- 
teen in revolt, yet one or two of them may have been 
correctly traced. The fact that this list includes ves- 
sels taken as early as 1774 also leaves room for the 
supposition that some of them may have been un- 
armed coasting vessels arbitrarily detained by the 
British blockading ships. 

The private armed brig Washington, Captain Mar- 
tindale, carrying ten guns, ten swivels, and eighty 
men, was captured oft the coast of North Carolina 
by the British frigate Fowey and carried into Boston. 
This vessel, together with four other ships seized by 
the enemy, were left in Boston in a dismantled state 
after they evacuated that city. 



WHEN the American colonists finally realized that 
they must resort to open hostilities in order to main- 
tain their rights, they became extremely active in fit- 
ting out vessels at private expense. Every seaport 
soon had its quota of privateers scouring the seas or 
hovering on the coasts of the enemy. Merchant ships 
that were no longer able to ply their usual trade were 
hastily fitted with a few guns and were sent to sea 
with a commission. Fishing smacks were divested 
of their cargoes and were transformed into belliger- 
ent craft, while even whaleboats ventured out, 
and in many cases succeeded in making valuable 

In the first two years of the war New Hampshire, 
although pretending to only one considerable seaport, 
sent out eight privateers, while her powerful neigh- 
bor, Massachusetts, had in commission fifty-three. 
Little Ehode Island and Connecticut had six and 
twenty-two, respectively, and even New York, whose 
principal seaport was held by the British through 
most of the war, managed to secure seven commis- 
sions. New Jersey, in the first two years, had only 
one privateer credited to her, but Pennsylvania had 
thirteen and Maryland twenty-one, while six were 
sent out from South Carolina and three from North 
Carolina, making a total of one hundred and forty- 
two privateers fitted out by the colonists in the first 
two full years of the war. " The people have gone 

70 FIRST TWO YEARS. 1776. 

mad a-privateering," said one of the writers of the 
day, and in some cases the expression " the enemy's 
coasts are swarming with our armed ships " was lit- 
erally true. This was especially the case off Halifax 
and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where so many 
American privateers had collected that they, in truth, 
very much interfered with one another. In reading 
over the personal narratives of privateersmen con- 
cerned in that period, it is surprising in how many 
instances we find American privateers chased by 
their own countrymen, and in some instances guns, 
provisions, and other equipage were thrown away in 
frantic effort to escape from friends. 

Among the first of these privateers to get to sea 
were the Yankee, the Yankee Hero, and the Yankee 
Ranger, all of Massachusetts. Like the vessels bear- 
ing the name " Yankee " in the War of 1812, this trio 
of Revolutionary Yankees had singularly exciting and 
varied experiences. The Yankee was a large sloop, 
carrying nine guns and a complement of sixteen men, 
under the command of Captain Johnson. She got to 
sea early in the war, and in July, 1776, captured the 
valuable British merchantmen Oreighton and Zachara, 
laden with rum and sugar. Johnson detailed prize 
crews to man these vessels, and then proceeded to 
escort them to an American port. Before gaining a 
place of safety, however, the prisoners in the prizes 
rose on their captors, retook the ships, and then 
united in an attack on the Yankee. Captain Johnson, 
as we have noted, had only sixteen men, which num- 
ber had been seriously reduced by the drafts for 
prize crews. Each of the British crews numbered 
more than the entire crew of the Yankee, and, as the 
merchantmen were well armed, the prisoners soon 
compelled the privateer to surrender. The Greighton 
and Zachara arrived at Dover, England, with their 
prize, the Yankee, and Captain Johnson, with his men, 
was thrown into Mill Prison. 

Scarcely less unfortunate than the Yankee was the 


TanJceeHero, Captain J. Tracy, a brig of fourteen guns, 
with a crew of forty men. In June, 1776, this priva- 
teer was chased by the English frigate Lively. Cap- 
tain Tracy did his best to outsail his powerful pur- 
suer, but the Englishman managed to get alongside 
and compelled the Americans to surrender; not, how- 
ever, until the latter had made a desperate resistance, 
in which four of their number were killed and thir- 
teen were wounded. The Yankee Ranger was more 
fortunate than either of her sisters. In August, 1776, 
she made prizes of three brigs laden with cotton, 
coffee, and oil. 

Some of the other successful privateers from 
Massachusetts were the 10-gun schooner America, Cap- 
tain McNeil, which in October, 1777, captured a ship 
laden with rum, sugar, wine, and logwood. The 12- 
gun brig Charming Peggy, Captain J. Jauncey, in 
October, 1776, seized a small vessel having a cargo of 
provisions, and the schooner Dolphin, Captain Leach, 
in September, 1776, captured the brig Royal George 
(also laden with provisions) and a sloop loaded with 
fish. The brig Hannah and Molly, Captain Crabtree, 
in the same year took a ship mounting four guns and 
eight swivels, one brig, two schooners, and a sloop 
a very successful cruise for that day. These vessels 
were taken by a stratagem in the harbor of Liver- 
pool, Nova Scotia. The 6-gun schooner Independence, 
Captain Nichols, in September, 1776, captured six 
vessels; while the Independency, Captain Gill, in the 
same month took a brig, but it was retaken by the 

In September, 1776, the 8-gun brig Joseph, Captain 
C.Babbidge, afterward commanded by Captains Field 
and West, made a prize of a schooner in ballast, and 
two months later took a valuable ship. In Septem- 
ber, 1776, the 16-gun brig Massachusetts, Captain D. 
Souther, captured a brig of six guns and twenty-eight 
men, having on board a company of dragoons. About 
the same time the 12-gun sloop RepuUic, Captain John 



Foster Williams, 1 captured two valuable ships, one 
named Julius Ccesar, and sent them into Boston. The 
Retaliation, a 10-gun brig commanded by a Mr. Giles, 
took, in the same year, after a severe action of two 
hours' duration, a ship armed with two guns. 

Most successful of all the privateers commissioned 
from Massachusetts in the first two years of the war 
was the 12-gun sloop Revenge, Captain J. White. In 
August, 1776, this vessel captured the ships Anna 
Maria and Polly (the former with a cargo of rum and 
sugar, and the latter laden with wine), the brigs 
Harlequin and Fanny, laden with rum and sugar; the 
sloop Betsey, and one other that was given up to the 
prisoners. Prizes also were taken in this year by the 
Massachusetts privateers Rover, Captain Forrester, a 
sloop of eight guns, and the 8-gun sloop Speedwell, 
Captain Greely. The Rover had an action with the 
British merchant ship Africa, which was maintained 
with much obstinacy until a shot ignited the Africa's 
magazine, blowing the craft to pieces, only three of 
her complement of twenty-six men being saved. The 
Rover also took the brigs Mary and James, Sarah Ann, 
and Good Intent, besides the snow Lively. 

On October 14, 1776, the 6-gun schooner General 
Gates, Captain B. Tatem, Captured a schooner, but 
shortly afterward, while off Portsmouth, New Hamp- 
shire, was herself taken by the English brig Hope. 
The American commander and his men escaped by 
swimming ashore. While cruising off Boston, June, 
1776, the sloop Lady Washington, Captain Cunning- 
ham, was attacked by four armed barges from British 
war ships. The privateer beat the boats off, killing 
several of the Englishmen. In October the Lady 
WasUngton, again cruising near Boston, captured a 
ship with a cargo of rum, sugar, and cotton. In the 
same month the 6-gun schooner Liberty, Captain 

1 Afterward a successful commander in the service of Massachusetts. 
See vol. i, p. 99, Maclay's History of the Navy. , 


Pierce, seized a ship with a cargo of fish and lum- 

The Baltimore Hero was one of the first privateers 
to leave the waters of Maryland. She was a schooner 
carrying from six to fourteen guns, and was com- 
manded at first by Captain T. Waters, and in 1779 
by Captain J. Earle. Under Earle she had an action 
with a British privateer schooner of fourteen guns 
in Chesapeake Bay and captured her. About the 
same time the Baltimore Hero put to sea the Betsey, 
Captain B. Dashiell, sailed from the Chesapeake. She 
was a sloop of ten guns. A private armed brig of the 
same name sailed from Maryland waters under the 
command of Captain J. Brice in 1777, and under Cap- 
tain B. Brudhurst in 1778. Betsey seems to have been 
a favorite name for privateers in this war, New 
York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ehode Island, 
and Connecticut each being credited with a Betsey. 

The 6-gun sloop Beaver, Captain S. Dean, sailed 
from New York in 1776, 1779, and again in 1781. In 
June, 1779, she captured a sloop. A privateer 
schooner of this name, but carrying twice the number 
of guns, was commissioned from Connecticut in 1778, 
under the command of Captain D. Scoville, and one 
from Pennsylvania, commanded by Captain W. Har- 
ris. Between August 3 and 6, 1776, the 10-gun sloop 
Broom, Captain W. Knott, of Connecticut, captured 
the ship Charles and Sally, the snow Ann, and the 
brigs Caroline and John. These vessels were laden 
with rum, sugar, and fustic. Of the other private 
armed vessels sailing from Connecticut the Washing- 
ton, Warren, Spy, and Shark were the most success- 
ful. In September, 1776, the Washington, Captain 
Odiorne, took the brig Georgia and a schooner, both 
laden with rum and sugar, besides making prize of 
a snow having a cargo of cannon aboard. 

The Warren, Captain Coas, in April took the sloop 
Betsey md Potty, and in the following June, while 
under the command of Captain Phillips, seized a 

f4- FIRST TWO YEARS. 1776-1779. 

transport armed with four guns and having on board 
one hundred soldiers. Several weeks later this priva- 
teer captured the ship Isaac and Picary, and in Au- 
gust she captured a brig carrying three guns and ten 
swivels. In this prize was a quantity of gold dust 
and ivory. Before the close of the year the Warren 
herself fell into the hands of the British frigate Liver- 
pool The Spy and Shark cruised for some time with 
Captain Hopkins' squadron, and in August, 1776, the 
former took the ship Hope, and in the following 
month the schooner Mary and Elizabeth, both prizes 
being laden with coffee and sugar. In 1779 the Shark 
made four prizes. 

Of the privateers that put to sea early in the war 
those from Pennsylvania seem to have met with the 
greatest success. The Chance, a little sloop mounting 
four guns, under the command of Captain J. Adams, 
in May, 1776, took the valuable ship Lady Juliana. 
The 24-gun privateer Cornet, about the same time, 
while off St. Kitts, fell in with a heavily armed Brit- 
ish merchantman, and for three hours engaged her at 
close quarters, when the Englishmen managed to 
escape with the loss of their mizzenmast. 

The audacity of Captain S. Cleaveland, of the brig 
Despatch, is typical. This vessel left Philadelphia 
without a gun aboard, her commander taking his 
chances of capturing some kind of an armament on 
the passage across the Atlantic or of purchasing guns 
in France. Captain Cleaveland had not been to sea 
many days before he captured a vessel, and, trans- 
ferring the guns to his own ship, continued his cruise. 
The 12-gun brig General Mifflin, Captain J. Hamil- 
ton, in 1776 made directly for British waters, where 
she took several valuable vessels, one of them being a 
ship with a cargo of wine. On her return passage 
the General Mifflin fell in with a British privateer 
carrying eighteen guns and eighty men. An action 
was immediately begun, and the Englishmen, after 
having sustained a loss of twenty-two killed or 


wounded, including their commander, surrendered. 
The American casualties were thirteen. 

In October of the same year the General Mont- 
gomery, a brig of twelve guns and one hundred men, 
under Captain Montgomery, came across a fleet of 
one hundred merchantmen, convoyed by several Brit- 
ish war ships. By adroit maneuvering the privateer 
managed to cut out one of the merchantmen, the ship 
Thetis, with a cargo of rum and sugar. 

Other privateers commissioned from Pennsylvania 
that got to sea early in the war were the 6-gun brig 
Nancy, the 14-gun snow Ranger, and the 14-gun brig 
Sturdy Beggar. The Nancy, on June 29, 1776, was 
chased ashore near Cape Henry by a British cruiser. 
After getting a portion of their cargo and powder 
on land the Americans blew the Nancy up. The 
Ranger, Captain Hudson, captured two storeships 
laden with military supplies. The Sturdy Beggar, in 
May, 1778, was captured, with eight other American 
vessels, in Croswell Creek by an English force con- 
sisting of two schooners, four gunboats, four galleys, 
and about twenty flatboats, under the command of 
Captain Henry, of the Royal Navy, and Major Mait- 

Besides her privateers Pennsylvania had a num- 
ber of galleys built especially for river defense. They 
were armed with two or three guns each and carried 
from twenty to fifty men. These boats were con- 
structed under a resolution passed by the Pennsyl- 
vania Council of Safety, July 6, 1775, under which 
Eobert White and Owen Biddle were appointed a com- 
mittee to attend to the construction of these gun- 
boats and to prepare machines for the defense of the 
Delaware. The first of these boats to be launched 
was the Bull Dog, built by the Messrs. Manuel, Jehu, 
and Benjamin George Eyre, for half a century well- 
known shipbuilders in Philadelphia. The Bull Dog, 
Captain Henderson, took the water July 26, 1775, and 
the others followed in rapid succession. They were 




the Burke, Captain Blair; the Camden, Captain Nicho- 
las Biddle, afterward famous in the navy; the 
Chatham, Captain J. Montgomery; the Congress, Cap- 
tain Hamilton; the Convention, Captain J. Kice; the 
Delaware, Captain Doughty; the Dickinson, Captain 
Eice; the Effingham, Captain Mears; the Experiment, 
Captain Thompson; the Franklin, Captain Biddle; the 
Hancock, Captain Moore; the Spitfire, Captain Grimes; 

and the Warren. The Spitfire, 
on August 3, 1776, took part 
in the attack on the British 
war ships Rose and Ph&ni in 
Hudson River. In this affair 
the Spitfire had one man 
killed and thre.e wounded. 
Pennsylvania also had a fire 
ship called the &tna, com- 
manded by William Gamble. 
The Ranger, a craft hastily 
fitted for harbor defense, in 
October, 1775, under the 
orders of Captain Hume, cap- 
tured a West India privateer. 
The vessel was carried by 
boarding, the English having 
some forty men killed or 
wounded before they surrendered. 

Among the first privateers to get to sea from 
South Carolina was the 14-gun brig Cornet, Captain 
J. Turpin. This vessel sailed on her first cruise with- 
out instructions. On November 2, 1776, she captured 
the ship Clarissa, the schooner Maria, and the sloop 
George. The Clarissa was laden with lumber and had 
on board forty negroes. 

New York, having her most available seaport in 
the hands of the enemy during the greater part of 
the war, did not send out her usual quota of armed 
craft. Some of her ships put to sea, however, and 
were successful. The sloop Montgomery, Captain Wil- 

Oolonel Jehu Eyre of the 
Philadelphia firm of ship- 

Prom a silhouette. 


liam Bodgers, in 1776 captured two brigs, one 
schooner, and one sloop; while the privateer Schuyler, 
Captain J. Smith, in June took a ship having on board 
twenty prisoners. In August the Schuyler seized five 
other vessels and recaptured the Nancy. The galley 
Whiting, Captain McCleave, on August 3, 1776, took 
part in the attack on the British war ships Rose and 
Phceniw, the galley having one man killed and four 

The only privateer from New Jersey that suc- 
ceeded in getting to sea early in the war was the 
schooner Enterprise, Captain J. Campbell. In July 
and August, 1776, she captured the ship Lancaster, 
carrying four guns and sixteen men; the ship Black 
Snake, with a cargo of rum and sugar; the snow James, 
having twenty-three men and a cargo of molasses and 
rum, and the ship Modesty, laden with sugar. On July 
22d the Enterprise captured the ship Earl of Errol, 
mounting six guns and having a cargo valued at one 
hundred thousand dollars. On the same day the 
Enterprise took the ship Nevis after a spirited action 
of one hour. * 

New Hampshire, in 1776, sent out the 12-gun brig 
Putnam, Captain J. Harman, which in one cruise cap- 
tured a ship and four schooners. Other private armed 
craft sent out from Portsmouth in this year were the 
brig Enterprise, Captain D. Jackson; the 14-gun sloop 
Harlequin, Captain D. Shaw; the 6-gun schooner 
McClary, Captain B. Parker; and the 20-gun ship 

The privateers sent out from Ehode Island in 1776 
were highly successful. Between July 1st and Au- 
gust 30th the Diamond, Captain N. Chase, captured 
the ships Jane, Star and Garter, and Friendship, the 
brig Mars, and the snow Portland. These vessels had 
cargoes of cocoa, fustic, rum, and sugar. In August 
the privateer Eagle, Captain Paine, took the ship 
Vewj$,with a cargo of mahogany, shells, etc. She also 
seized another ship (name not given) laden with rum, 

78 FIRST TWO TEARS. 1776. 

sugar, cotton, and the brig Virginia, with a cargo of 
tobacco. In the following October the brig Favorite, 
Captain Coffin, captured a ship and a schooner, with 
cargoes of pimento, rum, and sugar. Two years later 
the same privateer, while under the orders of Cap- 
tain Lamb, captured a ship armed with sixteen guns 
haying a cargo of logwood. The 10-gun brig Industry, 
Captain Child, in 1776, captured a brig, and then had 
a drawn battle with a ship of ten guns. The action 
lasted two hours, with a loss of two killed and six 
wounded on the part of the American. In October the 
16-gun ship Montgomery, Captain Bucklon, captured 
the ships Rover, Isabella, and Harlequin and the brigs 
Devonshire and Henry. The 12-gun brig Putnam, Cap- 
tain Ferguson, took four ships; and the same vessel, 
while under the command of Captain C. Whipple, 
captured two snows, one brig, and had a severe action 
with an armed ship. The Independence, of ten guns, 
also made a cruise under Captain Thomas Whipple. 



WE can better appreciate the high plane to which 
privateering had been raised, at the hands of Ameri- 
can seamen in the war for independence, when we 
remember that some sixty 
of our most formidable 
privateers were command- 
ed by men who were, or 
soon afterward became, 
captains in the navy. In 
fact, the privateer service 
became the training school 
of our embryo navy, not 
only in supplying officers, 
but seamen. The condi- 
tions of early privateering 
were such as to develop 
an exceptionally capable 
group of officers, and not a 
little of the marvelous suc- 
cess attained by the infant navy of the United States 
is directly traceable to this circumstance. 

Among the first of our navy officers to engage in 
privateering was Lieutenant Joshua Barney. 1 Bar- 
ney had been taken prisoner early in the war, and 
after a confinement of nearly five months in the 

1 For Barney's brilliant, services in the War of 1812 see Maclay's His- 
tory of the Navy, yol. i, pp. 588-585. 



prison ships at New York he was exchanged for an 
English officer of equal rank the first lieutenant of 
the British frigate Mermaid, which had been com- 
pelled, by the approach of the French fleet, in July, 
1778, to run ashore on the Jersey side of the Dela- 
ware. Making his way to Baltimore, Barney secured 
the command of a trading vessel, which was described 
as " a fine little schooner, armed with two guns and 
eight men," having a cargo of tobacco bound for St. 
Eustatia. This craft had a short and unfortunate 
career. In going down Chesapeake Bay she fell in 
with an English privateer carrying four guns and 
sixty men, and after a running fight of a few minutes 
was overtaken and carried by boarding, the Ameri- 
cans having one man killed and two wounded. As 
the Englishman had no desire to incumber himself 
with prisoners, he landed them at Cinapuxent, on the 
eastern shore of the Chesapeake, and sailed away 
with the prize. 

Lieutenant Barney returned to Baltimore, where, 
after several weeks spent in a vain endeavor to secure 
another vessel, he met his old commander, Captain 
Isaiah Kobinson, whose creditable career in the navy 
also has been recorded. 1 These two officers soon 
came to an agreement by which Robinson was to 
secure the command of a privateer and Barney was 
to serve in her as first officer. Much difficulty was 
found in securing a suitable vessel, and still more in 
getting the necessary arms, ammunition, and men, so 
that it was not until February, 1779, that they were 
able to leave Alexandria on a private cruise. The 
craft they secured was the brig Pomona, carrying 
twelve guns, of varying calibers, and a crew of 
thirty-five men. She was loaded with tobacco con- 
signed to Bordeaux. 

The adventures of these two navy officers began 
on the third day after clearing the Capes, when they 

1 See Maclay's History of the Navy, vol. i, p. 45. 


were discovered by a vessel and chased. As Captain 
Robinson's first object was to get the cargo of tobacco 
safely to France, he made every endeavor to avoid 
the stranger, but she proved to be a remarkably fast 
sailer. At eight o'clock in the evening, a full, un- 
clouded moon giving the chase every opportunity, 
the stranger came within hailing distance, and, run- 
ning up English colors, asked, " What ship is that? " 
The only answer Eobinson made was to show his 
flag, which the Englishman immediately ordered 

The Pomona then delivered her broadside, which 
brought down the enemy's fore-topsail, cut away some 
of their rigging, and apparently caused much sur- 
prise and confusion on board. The Englishman re- 
sponded with his battery, and a running fight was 
kept up until nearly midnight. Early in the fight the 
enemy discovered that the Americans had no stern 
gun ports, and availing themselves of this they ma- 
neuvered for positions off the Pomona's stern and 
quarters where she could not return their fire. As 
an evidence of the confusion into which the enemy 
had been thrown by the first broadside from the 
Pomona, it was noted that, with all their advantage 
of position, the English gunners were able to fire only 
one or two shots every half hour. Noting this, Robin- 
son caused a port to be cut in his stern and a long 
3-pounder whipped up from the gun deck and run out 
of it 

This was accomplished about midnight, when the 
Englishmen were drawing near for another shot. 
Apparently they had not discovered the shift in the 
Pomona's armament, for they drew quite near, and 
received such a discharge of grape that they hauled 
off and did not again come within gunshot that 

The light of day showed the Americans that the 
stranger was a brig of sixteen guns, and as several 
officers could be seen through her ports wearing 


uniforms, it was believed that she was a regular 
cruiser. Afterward it was learned the stranger was 
only a privateer, and her officers had resorted to the 
trick of donning uniform and displaying themselves 
in conspicuous places, so as to lead the Americans 
to believe that they were contending against one of 
the king's cruisers. This, the English thought, would 
show the Americans the hopelessness of the struggle, 
and would induce them to surrender without further 
resistance. But Captain Eobinson was not to be 
frightened by gold buttons and epaulets, and when 
about sunrise the stranger ran close under the 
Pomona's stern for the purpose of boarding the 
Americans made every preparation for giving her a 
warm reception. The solitary 3-pounder in the stern 
was loaded with grapeshot, and the charge was 
topped off by a crowbar stuck into the muzzle. 

Just as the English were about to board Barney, 
with his own hand, discharged this gun, and with 
such accurate aim that the British were completely 
baffled in their attempt, their foresails and all their 
weather foreshrouds being cut away. The loss of 
these supports compelled the Englishman to wear in 
order to save his foremast from going by the board. 
This maneuver gave the Americans an excellent 
chance for raking, and promptly going about Robin- 
son delivered an effective broadside. The enemy did 
not again return to the attack, so the Pomona resumed 
her course, arriving in Bordeaux without further in- 

Captain Eobinson afterward learned that his an- 
tagonist was the privateer Rosebud, Captain Duncan, 
with a crew of one hundred men, of whom forty-seven 
were killed or wounded. The Rosebud made her way 
to New York, where Duncan " charged " the Ameri- 
cans with " unfair fighting in using langrage." The 
only langrage Captain Robinson used on this occa- 
sion was the crowbar referred to. 

No better illustration of the dare-devil spirit of 


our privateersmen can be had than in the manner 
many of them put to sea. Any old tub of a craft, if 
nothing better offered, would do them, and if there 
were no cannon the junk shops were ransacked for 
old muskets, pistols, blunderbusses, swords, hand- 
spikes, and knives, and the commander went to sea in 
the hope of capturing merchantmen and transferring 
their armaments to his ship. Many of our privateers 
put to sea in this condition and met with astonish- 
ing success. 

The Pomona sailed from the Chesapeake with guns, 
it is true, but with less than she was pierced for, and 
the cannon she did carry were of varying and small 
calibers, which made it difficult to secure the proper- 
sized shot. She also started out with only half her 
complement, hoping to make up the full number 
from prospective prisoners. As we have seen, she 
did not succeed in making any priz'es on her way 
across the Atlantic, but on reaching Bordeaux Cap- 
tain Robinson sold his cargo of tobacco, and from 
the proceeds loaded with brandy and purchased 
eighteen 6-pounders, the regular armament of the 
brig, and a sufficient quantity of powder and shot. 
He also succeeded in enlisting thirty-five additional 
men, raising his complement to seventy. Sailing from 
Bordeaux in the early part of August, 1779, in this 
much-improved condition, the Pomma shaped her 
course for the return passage to America. 

One morning at daylight, when about halfway 
across the ocean, Captain Eobinson made a sail which, 
from her peculiar maneuvers, seemed to be "feel- 
ing " the Pomona's strength. By the time the sun rose 
the vessels had come within gunshot and several 
broadsides were exchanged, but at the end of the first 
half hour the stranger crowded on sail before the wind 
to escape. The Americans were promptly in chase, 
but being heavily laden the Pomona steadily fell be- 
hind, although she managed to keep the enemy in 
sight all that day. 



Toward evening a squall of wind and rain came 
on. Availing himself of this Captain Eobinson 
crowded on canvas, and on again coming np with the 
stranger exchanged several more broadsides, the 
Englishman still endeavoring to escape. During the 
night the chase was lost sight of, but on the follow- 
ing morning she was made out, in the somewhat thick 
weather, four or five miles ahead, it then being calm. 
Captain Robinson now got out his sweeps, and by 
dint of hard rowing managed to get alongside of 
his foe for the third time, when the stranger, without 
waiting for another broadside, surrendered at the 

first summons. The prize 
was found to be an Eng- 
lish privateer carrying 
sixteen guns, 6- and 
9-pounders, and a crew 
of seventy men. Twelve 
of her people had been 
killed and a number 
wounded, besides which 
she had been seriously 
injured in her hull, rig- 
ging, and spars. The 
only man killed in the 
Pomona was a lad who 
had shipped at Bordeaux 
as a passenger. Two 
of the Americans were 
wounded. Lieutenant Barney, with a prize crew, 
took possession of the privateer, and both vessels 
arrived safely at Philadelphia in the following 
October. Both Captain Robinson and Lieutenant 
Barney realized a handsome fortune in this au- 
dacious venture. 1 

One of the most successful commanders in the 

1 For the continuation of Barney's brilliant career in the privateer serv- 
ice, see chapters xii and xiv, Part First. 

navy of the Bevolution was Captain John Barry. 1 
This enterprising officer, like most of his brothers in 
the service, at times was unable to get a command 
in the navy, and employed the interim by privateer- 
ing. Some of the armed vessels placed under his 
orders were the 10-gun brig Delaware, the 6-gun brig 
General Montgomery, and the 24-gun ship Rover. A 
packet ship mounting six guns, called the Rover, was 
captured by an American privateer in 1779 under the 
command of Captain Sweet. 

Equally successful was Alexander Murray, who 
served with such distinction as a captain in the navy 
during the wars with France and Tripoli. 2 While 
commanding the privateer Prosperity, a brig carrying 
five 6-pounders and twenty-five men, Captain Mur- 
ray, in 1781, sailed for St. Croix with a cargo of to- 
bacco. When a few days out he fell in with a British 
privateer of fourteen guns, and after two hours .of 
hard fighting drove her off. The enemy made several 
attempts to board, but were repelled with great loss. 
The Prosperity was so injured in this action that soon 
afterward she lost her masts, and it was only with 
great difficulty that Murray reached St. Thomas. 
Here he refitted, and taking on board a full armament 
of fourteen guns, he sailed for the United States. 
When off Port Boyal he captured a British packet 

Captain Murray also commanded the privateers 
Columbus, the General Mercer, the Revenge, each of ten 
guns, and the 12-gun brig Saratoga. In the Saratoga 
Murray captured an English cutter of ten guns and 
fifty-two men. On this occasion Captain Murray was 
assisted by Silas Talbot, of the navy. The Saratoga, 
in 1779, had just taken the English brig Chance, when 
the Argo, Captain Talbot, hove in sight, and after clos- 
ing upon the cutter carried her by boarding, the Amer- 

1 For Barry's naval career, see Maclay's History of the Navy, vol. i, 
j>p. 89, 42, 48, 92-94, 14&-147. 

* See M.ftC>/$ History of the Navy, vol. i, pp. 165, 167, 187, 197, 335. 


leans having four killed and several wounded. In the 
following year Murray, then commanding the Re- 
venge, cut out a brig from a convoy of fifty sail. Arm- 
ing his prize and placing a good crew aboard, Captain 
Murray continued his cruise in company with his 
prize as a " commodore." Soon afterward he fell in 
with another American privateer, when the little 
squadron was attacked by three English privateer 
schooners in company with an armed ship and a brig, 
one of the first instances of a " fleet action " we have 
in which privateers were the sole participants. Soon 
realizing that they were dealing with ships better 
stored with shot and powder than with rich merchan- 
dise, the American and British privateersmen de- 
sisted and resumed their search for more tempting 
prizes. While cruising on the Newfoundland Banks 
the Revenge captured a British privateer. Then 
standing for the English coast, Captain Murray was 
chased and captured by a frigate. 

Perhaps the most successful of all the navy offi- 
cers who served their apprenticeship in the priva- 
teers of the Bevolution was Thomas Truxtun, whose 
battles with two French frigates, a few years later, 
won for him imperishable renown. 1 We first note 
Truxtun in the 10-gun ship Independence y of Pennsyl- 
vania. In 1777 he captured a ship having a cargo of 
sugar. This merchantman was armed with sixteen 
guns, and did not surrender without a stout resist- 
ance. While in the Independence Truxtun also cap- 
tured a brig and a sloop with cargoes of rum, etc. 
Two years later we find him in command of the 
armed ship Andrew Caldwell, of ten guns, which craft 
he shortly exchanged for the fine 24-gun ship Mars. 
In the latter Truxtun cruised some time in the Brit- 
ish Channel, making a number of prizes which were 
sent into Quiberon Bay, France. 

1 See Maolay's History of the Navy, voL i, pp. 160, 165, 176, 177-188, 
J9&-197, 238. 

So great had been the success of Captain Truxtun 
that in 1781 he was intrusted with the perilous task of 
convoying across the Atlantic Mr. Barclay, our con- 
sul-general to France. The splendid 20-gun priva- 
teer St. James, having a complement of one hundred 
men, was placed under his command, William Jones, 
afterward the Secretary of the Navy, serving in her 
as third officer. It seems that the British had 
learned of the proposed sailing of Mr. Barclay for 
France, and being especially 
anxious to intercept him they 
sent out a sloop of war from 
New York for the express 
purpose of capturing him. 
How accurately informed the 
enemy were of our secret 
movements is shown by the 
fact that this sloop of war 
fell in with the 8t. James a 
short time after she cleared 
land. A severe action was 
immediately begun, which re- 
sulted in the Englishman 
being forced to haul off, while the privateer con- 
tinued her way to France. Having successfully 
performed this hazardous service, Truxtun assumed 
the command of the 14-gun ship Commerce, with a 
crew of fifty men. In December, 1782, the Com- 
merce, while at sea, had an action with a British 
brig of sixteen guns and seventy-five men and a 
schooner of fourteen guns and eighty men. Not- 
withstanding the disparity of forces, Truxtun pre- 
pared to give battle, and had been sharply engaged 
with one of these vessels for twenty minutes, when 
a frigate hove in sight and compelled the Commerce 
to make all sail to escape. In this battle the Ameri- 
cans had one man killed and two wounded, while the 
loss of the British is placed at fourteen killed and 
twenty-four wounded. 


Stephen Decatur, Sr., the father of one of the 
heroes of the War of 1812, commanded five different 
privateers in the Eevolution. The younger Decatur 
also served in some of these craft, and received that 
training which in later years did so much to make 
our naval officers respected and feared the world over. 
The vessels commanded by the elder Decatur were 
the Comet, Fair American, Retaliation, Rising Sun, and 
Royal Louis. It was in the last ship that Decatur 
made his greatest reputation as a sea warrior. The 
Royal Louis carried twenty-two guns, and is credited 
with a complement of two hundred men a veritable 

corvette. In July, 1781, 
the Royal Louis had a des- 
perate action with the 
British cruiser Active, and 
took her only after heavy 
loss of life on both sides. 
This was only one of the 
many instances in which 
our privateers attacked 
and captured the king's 
cruisers. 1 For these bril- 
liant services Stephen De- 
catur, Sr., was taken into 
tlie nay y as a captain. 

f r 

Daniel McNeil, noted 
alike for Ijis eccentricities of character and bravery 
as an officer, had the honor, in 1778, while in com- 
mand of the 20-gun privateer General Mifflin, to re- 
ceive a salute from the French admiral at Brest. 
This so offended the British ambassador that he 
threatened to leave the country. The General Mifflir 
then made several captures near the British coast 
one of her prizes being a ship laden with wine. Oi 
her homeward passage from France the Genera 

1 For the subsequent career of Stephen Decatur, Sr., see Maday 1 
History of the Nary, ToL i, pp. 165, 169, 886. 

Mifflin had a severe action with a British priva- 
teer of eighteen guns and eighty men. The English- 
men finally surrendered, having had their com- 
mander and twenty-two men killed or injured. Mc- 
NielPs next command in the privateer service was 
the 10-gun ship Ulysses. In 1782 we find him in com- 
mand of the 6-gun brig Wasp, with a complement of 
twenty men. 

Two other navy officers who served in privateers 
must be specially noticed, Daniel Waters and George 
Little. Waters, in 1778, commanded the 16-gun ship 
Thorn, in which vessel he gave battle to the British 
16-gun brig Governor Tryon, Captain Stebbins, a Gov- 
ernment craft. She had in company the 18-gun brig 
Sir William ErsUne, Captain Hamilton, another king's 
ship. Waters had received his commission because 
of his extraordinary attack on the British troopship 
Defense in 1776, 1 and in the present instance he 
showed himself to be a privateersman of true mettle. 
He closed on both the British vessels at the same 
time, and after a spirited action of two hours com- 
pelled them to surrender, Captain Stebbins being 
among the many killed. On his homeward passage 
Waters, after an action of fifty minutes, captured the 
English ship Spartan, mounting eighteen guns and 
having a complement of ninety-seven men. Just be- 
fore gaining Boston harbor with his three prizes, 
Waters had the misfortune to lose the Governor 
Tryon, that vessel escaping under cover of night. 
The Sir William ErsJcine and Spartan, however, were 
brought safely into port. 

George Little, who commanded the Boston in her 
remarkable action with the French corvette Berceau, 
1800, 2 was in charge of the 13-gun privateer sloop 
Winthrop during the latter part of the war for inde- 
pendence. In his first cruise in this vessel Little 

1 See Macla/s History of the Navy, vol. i, pp. 49, 50. 
Ibid., Toll, pp. 208-218. 



captured two English privateers, and soon after cut 
out the British armed brig Meriam that was lying in 
the Penobscot with a prize sloop. The Winthrop made 
several other considerable prizes before the close of 
the war, among them being an 8-gun schooner which 
had first been chased ashore. Captain Little had as 
his first officer in the Winthrop Edward Preble, who 

afterward took part in our 
early operations in the Medi- 

Some other navy officers 
who commanded privateers 
in this struggle were David 
Porter, in the Aurora and the 
^ Delight- Nicholas Biddle, in 
* the Camden and General Moul- 
trie; Dudley Saltonstall, in 
the Minerva ; Charles Alex- 
ander, in the Active and Eliza- 
beth; Hoysted Hacker, in the 
Buccaneer] John Rodgers, in 
the General Smallwood; John 
Burroughs Hopkins, in the Lee and the Success; 
Samuel Tucker, in the Live Oak and Thorn; James 
Sever, in the Pluto and the Rambler; and Stephen 
Cassin, in the Rising Sun and the Vengeance. 



FEW privateersmen of the Revolution had a more 
distinguished career than Silas Talbot. Born of 
poor parents in Dighton, Massachusetts, young Tal- 
bot, at the age of twelve, engaged in a small coasting 
vessel as a cabin boy, and rapidly rose in his profes- 
sion, until, in 1772, when twenty- 
one years old, he had accumulated 
enough money to build for him- 
self a house in Providence, Rhode 
Island. On June 28, 1775, he 
was commissioned a captain in 
a Rhode Island regiment com- 
manded by Colonel Hitchcock, 
and took part in the operations 
before Boston which led to the 
evacuation of that place by the 
British, March 17, 1776. While 
on his way to New York with the 
American army, Talbot stopped 
at New London, at which port Captain Esek Hop- 
kins had just arrived after his successful expedition 
to the Bahamas. Hopkins applied to Washington 
for two hundred volunteers to assist his squadron 
in reaching Providence, and Talbot was one of the 
first to offer' himself. He proceeded in the squadron 
to the desired haven, and then, with his men, rejoined 
the army before New York. 

At that time several fire ships were in course of 


Esek Hopkins. 


construction, which it was hoped would destroy 
some of the vessels of the British fleet then at an- 
chor near New York. When these vessels were 
nearly ready, Captain Talbot and Ensign Thomas, of 
the same regiment the latter also having been a 
seaman applied for and were placed in command 
of two of these fire craft. When Washington re- 
treated to Harlem Heights, the British fleet moved 
up Hudson River, the American fire ships keeping 
just ahead of them and anchoring above Fort Wash- 
ington. Here they remained three days, when Tal- 
bot received a letter from Major Anderson direct- 
ing him to take the first opportunity to destroy 
the British vessels with his fire ships. About this 
time three of the enemy's vessels anchored seven 
miles above the city, with the view of turning the 
right wing of the American army. 

The following night proving fair, Captain Talbot, 
about two o'clock in the morning, weighed anchor, 
and, standing toward one of the ships, spread fresh 
priming on all the trains leading to the fire barrels 
and sprinkled quantities of turpentine over the com- 
bustible material that had been placed aboard. It 
was intended to set fire to the mass from the cabin, 
but in order that the flames might spread more 
readily Talbot prevailed upon one of his men, named 
Priestly an expert swimmer to lie down on the 
forecastle with a lighted match so as to fire the 
trains the instant they fouled the enemy's ship. 
Selecting the largest of the three ships, the 64-gun 
ship of the line Asia, Talbot availed himself of the 
darkest hour, just before daylight, and moved di- 
rectly upon her. The British were found to be on 
the alert, and when the approaching fire ship was 
still some distance off a boy aboard the Asia discov- 
ered her and gave the alarm. The enemy promptly 
opened a rapid fire, and, although several shots 
passed through the fire ship, no serious damage was 
done. In a few minutes the vessels fouled, matches 


were applied to the fore and aft trains at the same 
instant, and so rapid was the progress of the flames 
that they burst forth from all sides, while Talbot 
himself was compelled to grope around in the fire 
and received severe burns before he found the sally 
port through which he and his men were to escape. 
The brave Priestly, who had undertaken the peril- 
ous task of giving direct fire to 
the trains, was compelled to 
jump overboard, but was rescued 
by the boat. 

The greatest confusion pre- 
vailed aboard the Asia. Guns 
were fired while boats from the 
other British war craft put off to 
her assistance and to intercept 
the daring adventurers. The 
brilliant flames from the fire 
ship soon illuminated the river 
for miles, rendering the little 
boat containing the Americans 
a fair target. All the English ships opened on her 
with round and grape shot, but owing to the excite- 
ment of the moment only two small shot passed 
through the frail craft. After great efforts the Brit- 
ish succeeded in extinguishing the flames, but the 
enterprise had made such an impression upon their 
commanders that they immediately slipped their 
cables, and, falling down the river, anchored below 
New York. Captain Talbot and his men reached 
the Jersey shore in safety, but he was so burned and 
blistered by the fire as to be blinded, and his men led 
him through the woods to English Neighborhood. 
"Accommodations were solicited for him there at 
several houses, but to no purpose, the people alleg- 
ing generally that his appearance was so horrible 
he would frighten their children. At last a poor 
widow who lived in a small log hut that had but 
one room in it took him in, where he was laid on the 

94. CAPTAIN SILAS TALBOT. 1777-1778. 

floor and covered with a blanket, and his poor hostess 
procured for him every consolation in her power. 
Bnt in the conrse of the day General Knox and Dr. 
Enstis, passing that way and hearing of his distress- 
ing situation for he was at that time deprived of 
his sight they called in to see him, and the doctor 
gave directions for his more proper treatment. 
When the captain was a little recovered he left this 
poor but hospitable abode and went to Hackensack, 
where he remained till he was able to join his regi- 
ment." * For this gallant affair Congress promoted 
Talbot to the rank of major. Ensign Thomas 
brought his fire ship alongside a British tender of 
fourteen guns in Tappan Bay and destroyed her, but 
the gallant officer himself perished in the flames of 
his vessel. 

In the British attack on Fort Mifflin in Novem- 
ber, 1777, where Talbot was stationed, he received 
a musket ball through his left wrist. Notwithstand- 
ing the excruciating pain, he continued at his post 
with a handkerchief tied round the injured part. 
Soon afterward a ball penetrated his hip, and, being 
totally disabled, Talbot was placed in a boat and 
transferred to Eed Bank, and thence to the hospital 
at Princeton. Receiving permission from General 
Washington to return to his home in Rhode Island 
until his wounds were healed, Talbot proceeded to 

In the campaign of 1778 a French fleet, under 
Count d'Estaing, appeared on the American coast, 
and an expedition was planned to drive the British 
out of Rhode Island. In this effort the Americans 
were commanded by General Sullivan, while the 
English garrison was under the orders of Sir Robert 
Pigot. The first step to be taken by the Americans 
was to construct a large number of flat-bottom boats, 
in which the army could be transferred from the 

* Caritat's Life of Silas Talbot. 


mainland to Bhode Island. Major Talbot was or- 
dered to superintend this work, and in a short time 
had eighty-six boats in readiness, sixteen of which 
were built in one day, and calked by candlelight 
in an open field the following night. " Major Tal- 
bot, by the middle of the night, put everything 
in train for having all ready by the next morning; 
and then, being worn out with fatigue and want 
of rest for several days, laid down under one of the 
boats, that the dew might not fall upon him, and 
slept soundly, notwithstanding the calkers worked 
over his head part of the time to finish the boat." * 
The embarkation of the American army began Au- 
gust 9th, and on gaining the island began its march 
southward toward the British garrison at Newport. 
Being ordered to ride ahead so as to reconnoiter, 
our gallant major came in sight of the enemy's fort, 
when he discovered three British artillerymen in a 
garden foraging. He leaped his horse over the wall 
and threatened the men with instant death if they 
attempted to move. The soldiers, mistaking Talbot 
for a British officer, began apologizing for their ab- 
sence from the fort, and begged that they might not 
be punished, diplomatically offering to share their 
forage with him. Taking their side arms, Talbot 
marched them up the road before him into the 
American lines. 

Owing to the failure of the French fleet to co- 
operate with the Americans, the attack on Newport 
was not made, and on August 28th our army began 
its retreat to the mainland. When the French ships 
first appeared off Newport, July 25th, the English 
burned several of their men-of-war and sank the 
frigate Flora, at that time heaved down on the beach 
for cleaning. This step opened to the Americans the 
water passages on each side of Khode Island, which 
were of inestimable advantage. With a view of 

1 Oaritat's Life of Silas Talbot. 








\ln Rhode Island Waters 

again closing these channels, the British, after the 
departure of the French vessels for Boston, con- 
verted a stout brig of some two hundred tons into a 
galley. Her upper deck was removed, and on the 

lower deck eight 
12 -pounders from 
the Flora, were 
mounted, besides 
ten swivels, .and 
being provided 
with strong board- 
ing nettings, and 
manned by forty- 
five men, she be- 
came a formidable 
auxiliary to the 
British land forces. 
This craft, named 
in honor of the 
British command- 
ing general, Sir 
Bobert Pigot, was 
placed in charge 
of Lieutenant Dun- 
lop, of the British 
navy, and on tak- 
ing a station in the 
eastern passage 
succeeded in com- 
pletely interrupting the important commerce carried 
on through that. channel. 

Determined to capture or destroy this mischie- 
vous vessel, Talbot early in October obtained Gen- 
eral Sullivan's permission to fit out a craft and call 
for volunteers. The small coasting schooner Hawk, of 
seventy tons, was secured, and in two days was pre- 
pared for the enterprise with two 3-pounders and 
sixty men under Talbot, Lieutenant Baker being sec- 
ond in command. These daring men promptly made 

I Point 



sail, and had proceeded about eight miles below 
Providence when the wind failed, so that they were 
obliged to remain at anchor all that night and the 
following day. In order to reach the Pigot, Talbot 
was compelled to run past two British earthworks, 
one of which was erected on the south side of the 
passage at Bristol Ferry, while the other was on the 
west side of Pogland Ferry. The channel opposite 
these batteries is about three quarters of a mile 

On the following night Talbot, favored with a 
good breeze, got under way, and by keeping as near 
as possible to the opposite shore passed the fort at 
Bristol Ferry. He was discovered and fired upon, 
but fortunately all the enemy's missiles fell wide of 
the Hawk, and she ran about six miles up Taunton 
Eiver, anchoring on the west side of Mount Hope 
Bay, some fifteen miles from the Pigot, the direction 
of the wind at that time rendering it impracticable 
to approach Fogland Ferry. As the breeze failed to 
serve on the following morning, Talbot, leaving 
Baker in charge of the Hawk, proceeded in his boat 
to the east side of Sakonnet Eiver. He landed alone, 
and securing a horse rode down the shore to a point 
opposite the galley, where with a good glass he re- 
connoitered her at his leisure. This intrepid officer 
soon discovered that she was a far more formidable 
craft than he had been led to believe, her boarding 
nettings being very high, and were carried entirely 
around, making it exceeding difficult to take her by 
boarding the main reliance of the Americans in the 
proposed attack. Yet, in spite of the unexpected 
difficulties involved in the attempt, Talbot deter- 
mined to move against the Pigot that evening. Ee- 
turning to the Hawk, he asked for and received from 
Brigadier-General Cornell a reinforcement of fif- 
teen men under Lieutenant Helm, of Ehode Island. 
When the men had got aboard, Major Talbot called 
all hands, and for the first time fully explained his 


plans for taking the Pigot, concluding his remarks 
with an exhortation, urging the men to keep cool, 
and making a considerable personal reward for the 
man who first gained the galley's deck. The men 
responded to the harangue with cheers, and prompt- 
ly at nine o'clock the Hawk got under way and pro- 
ceeded down the river. 

In making his preparations for the attack, Talbot 
showed true Yankee ingenuity by lashing a kedge 
anchor fast to the end of his jib boom, so that when 
the Hawk ran against the Pigot the kedge would tear 
a wide chasm in the nettings. A grapnel also was 
held in readiness to throw aboard the enemy so as 
to hold the vessels together. As the Americans 
approached the fort at Fogland Ferry, Talbot low- 
ered his sails so that the Hawk would drift past 
under bare poles, thereby reducing the chances of 
discovery. On the successful passage of this fort un- 
discovered largely depended the ultimate success of 
the enterprise; for the Pigot lay only four miles be- 
low, near Black Point, and would have been warned 
of the approaching danger by the sound of guns. 
So onward in the darkness glided the silent Hawk, 
with every sound hushed and every light carefully 
.screened, and though she drew so near the earth- 
works as to enable her people to clearly distinguish 
the sentinels every time they passed the light at the 
window of the barrack she continued on her way 
down stream undetected. 

Having safely passed the fort, Talbot again set 
his sails, and stood swiftly down the river with all 
hands at quarters. Owing to a possible overanxiety 
Talbot did not gain a view of the Pigot as soon as 
he had expected, and, fearing that he had passed her 
in the darkness, he came to anchor, and, getting into 
his boat, pulled with muffled oars down the stream 
and went in search of his enemy. He had not pro- 
ceeded far when the galley suddenly loomed up 
directly ahead. To make absolutely sure of success 


this discreet officer, instead of exhibiting undue 
haste by pulling immediately back to his craft, 
moved closer to the Pigot, and having satisfied him- 
self as to how she rode with the tide and wind, re- 
turned to the Hawk. Getting his schooner under way 
again, Talbot bore directly down on the galley. Soon 
her dark outlines were distinguished in the sur- 
rounding gloom, and almost at the same instant a 
challenge was heard across the water. The hail was 
repeated several times, and as no answer was made 
a small volley of musketry was delivered at the 
Americans, which occasioned little or no injury, as 
the crew had been ordered to lie down behind the bul- 

Before the British could discharge a single can- 
non the Hawk had fouled them, the kedge tearing a 
great hole in the boarding nettings, while the grap- 
nel, being promptly swung aboard, held the two craft 
together. The Americans then rose, and, giving a 
volley of small arms, followed Lieutenant Helm's 
lead in boarding the galley. In a short time every 
Englishman was driven below excepting their gal- 
lant commander, Lieutenant Dunlop, who appeared 
on deck in his underclothing, and began prepara- 
tions for a desperate resistance. He was soon over- 
powered, however, and when informed that his craft 
had been taken by a small sloop carrying only two 
3-pounders, manned exclusively by soldiers though 
many of them had been seamen burst into tears, 
saying that he " fancied himself to stand as fair for 
promotion as any lieutenant in the navy, but that 
now all those agreeable hopes were swept away." 
Major Talbot, in a magnanimous spirit, endeav- 
ored to console the crestfallen officer. Having as- 
certained that not a man on either side had been 
killed, Talbot sent his prisoners below, where they 
were secured by coiling the cables over the grat- 
ings, and, getting both vessels under way, ran into 
Stonington that evening, where the prisoners were 


landed and marched to Providence on the follow- 
ing day. 

"The good effects resulting from this well- 
planned and bravely executed enterprise," said a 
contemporary writer, "were numerous and exten- 
sive. The spirit of the people, which by the failure 
of the late attempt on the English garrison at New- 
port had been greatly depressed, was raised, and 
the intercourse by sea, which, to the immense preju- 
dice of this part of the country, had long been shut 
up, was now opened." For this handsome exploit 
Congress promoted Talbot to the rank of lieutenant 
colonel, while the General Assembly of Rhode Island 
presented both Talbot and Helm with a sword. 

Stimulated by his successes against the Asia and 
Pigot, Talbot soon formed a plan for destroying the 
50-gun ship Renown, which the enemy, late in 1778, 
stationed off Rhode Island. An old, high-sided mer- 
chant ship, of about four hundred tons, was carried 
down the river a few miles below Providence, and a 
stage was built on her deck, as if for carrying cattle. 
" This stage was calculated to be about seven feet 
higher above the surface of the water than the up- 
per tier of guns in the Renown, and was spread out 
over the sides in order to facilitate boarding when 
the two vessels lay close together, and its height 
would not only enable the men to command the 
decks of the enemy, but place them above the 
fire of their guns. To drive the enemy from their 
upper decks, the colonel provided a great number of 
stout earthen pots, each of which held three pounds 
of dry gunpowder and three hand grenades ready 
charged. These fire pots were securely closed, and, 
then,*to preserve them from any accidental wet, cov- 
ered with sheep or lamb skin, with the wool on the 
outside. Over all were laid two pieces of slow match 
that were so long that when lashed on with a cord 
made a handle to hold it by, while the ends of the 
match hung below the pot as much as twelve inches. 


By repeated experiments the colonel found that any 
man of common strength could throw these pots 
to a distance of forty feet with considerable cer- 
tainty. Their fall on the deck would infallibly break 
them and scatter the contents, when the fire of the 
slow match would communicate with the loose pow- 
der, and in an instant with the grenades. It was the 
colonel's design, in real action, to station one hun- 
dred men in a convenient part of his ship with one 
of these fire pots in each hand. He conceived that 
the explosion on the enemy's decks of two hundred 
pots, containing together six hundred pounds of dry 
powder, and the successive bursting of six hundred 
hand grenades, would in the night, when assisted 
by musketry fire from two hundred men and the 
shouts and huzzas of all, produce a terrible scene 
of destruction and alarm at the first outset, drive 
the enemy from their quarters, so that the board- 
ing party might, without great difficulty, succeed 
in getting possession of the quarter-deck of the man- 
of-war." 1 Talbot also counted on, as a considerable 
item in the success of this enterprise, the reported 
lack of discipline aboard the Renown, he having 
learned from some prisoners who had been detained 
aboard this craft that her officers were especially 
negligent at night. On the evening selected for the 
attempt, the American vessel dropped six miles far- 
ther down the river, while a body of nearly four hun- 
dred men marched along the shore, abreast of her, 
ready to embark and take part in the attempt when 
all was ready. Unfortunately for the projectors 
of this daring scheme, the weather that night sud- 
denly came on very cold, the ice forming so rapidly 
in the river as to prevent the land force from getting 
aboard, and when morning dawned it was found that 
the river was frozen over, holding both the Renown 
and the merchantman immovable all that winter. 

* Coritat's Life of Silas Talbot. 

102 CAPTADT SILAS TALBOT. 1778-1779. 

To guard against any attack on the Renown over the 
ice, the British placed a large detachment of soldiers 
aboard her. When navigation opened in the spring 
the Renown was ordered from this station, her place 
being taken by a 44-gun ship, which anchored under 
the guns of the fort in Newport harbor. The fact 
of this vessel being anchored in a safer place in- 
duced Talbot to make an attempt upon her, as he 
reasoned that her people would be less vigilant than 
when stationed farther up the river. This enter- 
prising officer again prepared the old merchantman, 
and with three hundred and fifty volunteers moved 
down Providence Eiver. Unfortunately the pilot 
ran the ship hard-and-fast aground, and as she could 
not be floated again until the enemy would have been 
warned of the danger Talbot was obliged to return. 
Observing the great success of privateers fitted 
out by the rebelling colonists, a number of Tories in 
New York transformed some of their merchantmen 
in that port into private cruisers and sent them out 
to prey on the coastwise trade, with the result that 
in a short time American commerce in the vicinity 
of New York was almost annihilated. This was espe- 
cially the case in Long Island Sound and in the 
waters of Ehode Island. The effect of this Tory pri- 
vateering, aided by the regular cruisers of the Royal 
Navy, was so injurious to the American cause that 
General Gates, commanding the Continental army 
in the northern department, reported to Washing- 
ton that it was almost impossible to secure provi- 
sions. At Washington's suggestion Gates prepared 
the captured Pigot as a coast guard, while the little 
sloop Argo, of one hundred tons, was fitted with 
twelve 6-pounders, and being placed under the com- 
mand of Colonel Talbot, with sixty volunteers from 
the army most of whom had been seamen sailed 
from Providence, in May, 1779, to cruise after the 
mischievous Tories. The Argo "was steered with 
a long tiller, but had no wheel; had a high bulkhead* 


Her bulwarks also were very high. She had a wide 
stern, and her appearance altogether was like a 
clumsy Albany sloop." l Proceeding round the east 
end of Long Island, Talbot fell in with the privateer 
Lively, Captain Stout, of New York, mounting twelve 
6-pounders. This craft was made out early in the 
morning, the Argo promptly giving chase. After 
a hard run of five hours, in which the Tory made 
every effort to avoid a fight, Talbot succeeded in get- 
ting up with her and compelled her to strike. She 
was sent into port. Three or four days after this 
the Argo sighted two English privateers, which 
proved to be from the West Indies, heavily laden 
and bound for New York. Both of them surrendered 
after the Americans were fairly alongside, and prize 
crews being thrown aboard they were carried into 

Not only were the Tories in New York active in 
fitting out privateers, but those in Newport also 
sent out the stout brig King George, Captain Hazard, 
mounting fourteen 6-pounders and manned by eighty 
men. As this craft hailed from his native State, and 
had taken many American vessels, Talbot naturally 
was anxious to meet her, though he knew that she 
was more formidable than the sloop he commanded. 
" Captain Hazard was a native of Ehode Island, and 
had been universally esteemed till he took command 
of this privateer for the base purpose of plundering 
his neighbors and old friends. Whenever the Argo 
went out from Providence, Stonington, New London, 
or any other port in that quarter, where she occa- 
sionally ran in for the night, it was the common 
wish of the inhabitants that she might take or sink 
Captain Hazard." 2 

Captain Talbot soon had the satisfaction of grati- 
fying this patriotic desire of the New Englanders; 
for on his second cruise, when about one hundred 

1 Garitat's Life of Silas Talbot. * Ibid. 




and twenty miles south of Long Island, the day 
being exceptional, beautiful and calm, a vessel was 
sighted about noon, which was discovered to be the 
King George. The vessels gradually approached each 
other, and when within a short distance Talbot 
hailed, and to his great pleasure found his hail an- 
swered by Captain Hazard in person. The Argo was 
promptly run alongside, and, delivering their broad- 
side, the Americans boarded, and soon drove their 


enemies below, not a man on either side being killed. 
Placing a prize crew aboard the King Q-eorge, Talbot 
ordered her into New London, where she arrived 
amid the cheers of the population "even the 
women, both old and young, expressed the greatest 
joy." Soon after this most gratifying success the 
Argo seized an American privateer which was in the 
hands of a British crew and sent her into New Bed- 


ford. In the same cruise Talbot captured the Brit- 
ish merchant brig Elliott, from London for New 
York, mounting six guns, and sent her into New 
London. She had a valuable cargo of dry goods and 

This " army privateer " had now taken five ves- 
sels without serious fighting. Talbot had developed 
his crew to the highest state of efficiency, and they 
were anxious to test their mettle against that of a 
worthy foe. Early one morning in August, when the 
sloop was at sea, a sail was discovered, which soon 
gave promise of a struggle. She was quickly made 
out to be a large ship, armed and full of men. As 
the stranger showed no disposition to avoid the Argo, 
the two craft were soon within gunshot of each 
other, the Americans at their cannon ready for ac- 
tion. After exchanging hails, and finding that they 
were enemies, both vessels opened an animated fire 
from their guns. The battle was fought within pis- 
tol shot, and lasted four hours and a half. At one 
time the speaking trumpet which Colonel Talbot 
held to his mouth was pierced by shot in two places, 
and about the same time a cannon ball took off the 
skirt of his coat. Evidently the Argo was getting 
a real taste of a sea fight, for after the action had 
lasted several hours nearly all the men stationed on 
her quarter-deck were killed or wounded. Talbot 
pluckily continued the fight, notwithstanding his 
severe losses, and finally had the satisfaction of ob- 
serving his opponent's mainmast fall. Upon this 
the Englishmen surrendered and announced their 
ship to be the privateer Dragon, of three hundred 
tons, mounting fourteen 6-pounders and manned by 
eighty men. 

Just as the enemy's colors came down Talbot was 
informed by one of his officers who had been sta- 
tioned in the magazine below that the Argo was 
sinking, the water in her hold having reached the 
gun deck. At this alarming report Talbot promptly 


ordered the sides of his sloop to be inspected, be- 
lieving the cause of the inrushing waters to be 
shot holes. His surmise proved to be correct, and 
in a short time men were swung over the sides, who 
plugged the holes, after which all hands manned the 
pumps and succeeded in clearing the sloop of water. 
The Dragon was then manned and sent into New 

Scarcely had the American repaired damages 
when another sail was reported. This was the Eng- 
lish privateer brig Hannah, of two hundred tons, 
armed with twelve 12-pounders and two 6-pounders. 
Although a vessel twice the size and force of the 
Argo, Colonel Talbot did not hesitate to attack her. 
Soon after the action began the American priva- 
teer Macaroni, Captain D. Keybold, of Pennsylvania, 
a brig of six guns and twenty men, drew near, upon 
which the Hannah surrendered. She was sent into 
New Bedford in company with the Dragon. " When 
the Argo returned to port with these last prizes she 
was so much shivered in her hull and rigging by the 
shot which had pierced her in the last two engage- 
ments that all who beheld her were astonished that a 
vessel of her diminutive size could suffer so much and 
yet get safely to port. The country people came 
down from a considerable distance, only to see Cap- 
tain Talbot and his prizes and to count the shot 
marks about the Argro." 1 On September 17, 1779, 
Congress gave Talbot a commission as captain in 
the navy, and further declared that his pay as lieu- 
tenant colonel should continue until he could be em- 
ployed by the marine committee. 

After refitting, the Argo put to sea, and, skirting 
the southern coast of Long Island, appeared off 
Sandy Hook, where she fell in with the privateer 
Saratoga, Captain Munroe, of Providence. While 
these two vessels were cruising in company off this 

1 A contemporary account. 


port, on a clear moonlight night, the English priva- 
teer Dublin, Captain Fagan, fitted out by the Tories 
in New York, was discovered coming out. After a 
short consultation between the American command- 
ers, it was agreed that, in order to induce the Dublin 
to give battle, the little Argo should boldly approach 
Sandy Hook and challenge the Tories to action, the 
Dublin carrying two more guns than the Ehode 
Island sloop. In accordance with this programme, 
Talbot stood close in, and, after exchanging hails 
with Captain Fagan, engaged him in a spirited fight. 
For two hours the crews fought with great deter- 
mination, the Americans wondering greatly at the 
failure of their consort, the Saratoga, to come up to 
their assistance as agreed upon. This circumstance 
is explained as follows: 

" The Saratoga was steered with a long wooden 
tiller on common occasions, but in time of action 
the wooden tiller was unshipped and put out of the 
way, and she was then steered with an iron one 
that was shipped into the rudder head from the 
cabin. In the hurry of preparing for battle, this 
iron tiller had been shoved into the opening of the 
rudder case, but had not entered its mortise in the 
rudder head at all, and the Saratoga went away 
with the wind at a smart rate, to the surprise of 
Captain Talbot and the still greater surprise of Cap- 
tain Munroe, who repeatedly called to the helms- 

" ' Hard a-weather, hard up there! 9 

" ' It is hard up, sir/ 

" ' You lie, you blackguard! She goes away lask- 
ing. Hard a-weather, I say again/ 

" ' It is hard a-weather, indeed, sir/ was the only 
reply the helmsman could make. 

" Captain Munroe was astonished, and could not 
conceive 'what the devil was the matter with his 
vessel.' He took in the after-sails and made all 
the headsail in his power. * All ' would not do, and 


away she went. He was in the utmost vexation lest 
Captain Talbot should think him actually running 
away. At last one of his under officers suggested 
that possibly the iron tiller had not entered the rud- 
der head, which on examination was found to be 
the case. The blunder was soon corrected, and the 
Saratoga was made to stand toward the enemy; and 
that some satisfaction might be made for his long 
absence Captain Munroe determined, as soon as he 
got up, to give them a whole broadside at once. He 
did so, and the Dublin immediately struck her 
colors." * The privateers carried their prize into Egg 
Harbor. The day following the capture of the Dul- 
Kn the Argo seized the British merchant brig Chance, 
from London for New York, laden with a valuable 
cargo of stores for the English army. She was of 
about two hundred tons, and was carried into Egg 

A few days after this successful cruise the boy 
at the Argo's masthead reported a ship on the hori- 
zon. This was about ten o'clock in the morning, and, 
it being a clear day; the stranger was a great dis- 
tance off when first noticed. Talbot made all sail in 
chase of the ship, when, discovering the sloop, the 
stranger made every effort to get away. All that 
day the pursuit was maintained, and by nightfall 
the Americans had gained only slightly. A clear 
night enabled the Argo to keep the stranger in sight, 
and early on the following morning she had her 
within long gunshot. Talbot now believed that she 
was a large transport bound for the West Indies, 
and, as he could not discover any guns or gun ports, 
he was extremely anxious to get up to her. The 
stranger was running dead before the wind, which 
was her best point of sailing, but about ten o'clock 
the wind died away. Being within gunshot the 
Americans made every preparation for battle, the 

1 Garitat's Life of Silas Talbot 

1779. A NABROW ESCAPE. 109 

stranger all the time keeping her stern toward h'er 
pursuer, so that it was impossible to ascertain her 

Just as the Argo was getting ready to open fire, 
the people in the chase were observed getting out 
their sweeps, and in a few minutes they had brought 
their broadside to bear, and to the astonishment of 
the Americans the stranger ran out thirty guns and 
delivered a terrific broadside. The little Argo had 
been chasing a ship of the line, and was now be- 
calmed under her guns! Captain Talbot promptly 
set all hands at his sweeps. Fortunately the Eng- 
lishmen fired with more haste than accuracy, though 
several of their shots hulled the sloop, killing one 
of the crew and wounding another in his right arm. 
By great exertions the Americans gradually worked 
their sloop to a position on the Englishman's quarter, 
and in the course of several hours managed to get 
beyond the reach of his guns, when the Americans, 
utterly exhausted, threw themselves on the deck and 
rested. Soon afterward a breeze sprang up and the 
Argo effected her escape. The stranger proved to be 
the Reasonable, which had been sent from New York 
with all possible speed to join the British fleet in 
the West Indies. Had it not been for this circum- 
stance, the Raisonalle might have captured the Argo. 
One of the English shots, a 32-pounder, penetrated 
the Argo's bulwark, smashed a boat, and spent itself 
on the deck. 

Early in September, shortly after his adventure 
with the ship of the line, Captain Talbot discovered 
a sail standing toward him which was believed to 
be a British privateer. Soon the sail was made out 
to be a brig of considerable force, apparently using 
her utmost endeavor to overhaul the little sloop. 
Talbot allowed her to approach within pistol shot, 
when he exchanged hails. The brig then showed 
English colors, upon which Talbot displayed the 
Stars and Stripes, calling out: 


" You must now haul down those British colors, 
my friend." 

The commander of the brig, a Scotchman, coolly 
replied with a dignity and elaborateness worthy of 
a Chesterfield: 

" Notwithstanding I find you an enemy, as I sus- 
pected, yet, sir, I believe I shall let them hang a 
little bit longer with your permission so fire away, 

This was the signal for both vessels to open, and 
for nearly an hour a spirited cannonade was main- 
tained, when the Scotchman, having all of his offi- 
cers and many of his men killed or wounded, sur- 
rendered. The brig was the Betsey, a privateer 
pierced for sixteen guns, but mounting only twelve 
6-pounders, with a crew of thirty-eight men. .She 
was bound for New York, and had on board two hun- 
dred and fourteen puncheons of rum. Shortly after 
this Talbot captured a sloop from New Providence 
for New York, with a cargo of stores for the British 

When Captain Talbot returned to Providence 
after this cruise he found orders awaiting him there 
from Congress to surrender the Argo to her owner, 
Nicholas Low, of New York. The sloop, when first 
fitted up as an " army privateer," belonged to Mr. 
Low, who, being in New York at the time, could not 
be reached by the American authorities, and the 
sloop was seized without his permission. This little 
vessel had taken, while under Talbot's command, 
twelve prizes, and had rendered inestimable service 
to the American cause, not only in ridding the south- 
ern part of the New England coast of Tory priva- 
teers and in taking valuable prizes, with three hun- 
dred prisoners, but in opening navigation so that 
the army under General Gates could receive much- 
needed supplies. 

After his relinquishment of the command of the 
Argo every effort was made by the authorities to 


secure another vessel for this successful privateers- 
man. In the summer of 1780 the private cruiser 
General Washington, of Providence, mounting twenty 
6-pounders and manned by one hundred and twenty 
men, was fitted out and placed under Talbot's orders. 
In his first cruise in this formidable vessel Talbot 
captured a valuable merchantman from Charleston 
for London, which was sent into Boston. Afterward 
he took a British ship from the West Indies for Ire- 
land, but this prize was recaptured before reaching 
port. Eunning up to Sandy Hook after this cap- 
ture, Talbot inadvertently ran into the British fleet 
under Admiral Arbuthnot. He made sail to escape, 
hotly pursued. The wind soon came on to a strong 
gale, and one of the Englishmen, a 74-gun ship of the 
line, carried away her foreyard and dropped astern. 
The ship of the line Culloden, however, continued the 
chase, and finally captured the privateer. Captain 
Talbot was taken aboard the Robuste, Captain Cosby 
afterward admiral and was treated with cour- 
tesy. From this vessel Talbot was transferred to 
a tender and taken to New York, and was confined in 
the Jersey, where he received the usual ill treatment. 
Toward the close of the year 1780, Talbot, with a 
number of other American officers nd seamen, was 
placed in the ship of the line Yarmouth, Captain Lut- 
widge afterward admiral and taken to England. 
The barbarous treatment of the prisoners aboard the 
Yarmouth is narrated in the chapter " An Escape 
from Old Mill Prison." After being incarcerated in 
Plymouth Prison some months, Talbot, in October, 
1781, was released and made his way to Prance. 
Early in February, 1782, he sailed from Nantes for 
Ehode Island in a brig commanded by Captain Fol- 
ger. When fifteen days out the vessel was captured 
by the British privateer Jupiter, Captain Craig, who 
treated his prisoners with kindness. Falling in with 
a British brig from Lisbon for New York, Captain 
Craig placed Talbot aboard her, remarking that Tal- 


bot had been a prisoner so long, and had suffered so 
much, that he ought to have the earliest opportunity 
to reach home. Arriving at New York, Talbot took 
passage in a lumber boat to Stony Brook, Long 
Island, from which place he walked some fifteen 
miles to a tavern kept by one Munroe, at Hunting- 
ton. Eemaining here a week, he crossed the Sound 
at night in a boat and landed at Fairfield, Connecti- 
cut, from which place he made his way overland 
to Providence. After the war Talbot was regu- 
larly attached to the navy, and commanded the 
famous frigate Constitution in 1799, when she had 
her merry race with a British war ship of the same 
class. 1 One of the torpedo boats of our new navy has 
been named after Silas Talbot. 

1 See Maclay's History of the Navy, vol. i, pp. 178, 174. 



THAT our privateers were a powerful agency in 
bringing about the successful termination of the war 
for independence is seen in the marvelous develop- 
ment of that form of maritime warfare. While our 
Government war vessels steadily diminished in num- 
ber and force, from thirty-one vessels, with five hun- 
dred and eighty-six guns, in 1776, to seven ships, with 
one hundred and ninety-eight guns, in 1782, our priva- 
teers increased at the following remarkable rate: 
One hundred and thirty-six vessels, with thirteen hun- 
dred and sixty guns, for the years 1775 and 1776; 
seventy-three vessels, with seven hundred and thirty 
guns, in 1777; one hundred and fifteen vessels, with 
eleven hundred and fifty guns, in 1778; one hundred 
and sixty-seven vessels, with two thousand five hun- 
dred and five guns, in 1779; two hundred and twenty- 
eight vessels, with three thousand four hundred and 
twenty guns, in 1780; four hundred and forty-nine 
vessels, with six thousand seven hundred and thirty- 
five guns, in 1781; and three hundred and twenty- 
three vessels, with four thousand eight hundred and 
forty-five guns, in 1782. 

Another interesting feature of this extraordinary 
development of privateering was the rapid increase 
in the size and efficiency of the craft thus engaged. 
In the earlier part of the war any vessel, old or 
new, that could possibly be converted into a war 
craft was eagerly seized, a few guns mounted on her, 



and she was sent to sea with, in some cases, the most 
curious assemblage of men imaginable. Physicians, 
lawyers, army officers, politicians, staid merchants, 
and even ministers of the Gospel, were found in their 
complements; all seemingly carried away by the 
" craze for privateering." 

As the war progressed, and as the profits from 
prizes enriched the owners of these craft, new, 
swifter, and better vessels were built expressly for 
this service, so that when, on the outbreak of hostili- 
ties, ten guns was considered a large armament for a 
privateer, and thirty to sixty men were deemed suffi- 
cient to man each, toward the latter part of the war 
vessels mounting twenty, and even twenty-six guns, 
and having complements of one hundred and fifty to 
two hundred men, were the rule rather than the ex- 
ception. As the Government cruisers one by one fell 
into the hands of the enemy, or were lost by ship- 
wreck, or were blockaded in our ports, their number 
rapidly diminished, and Congress frequently called 
upon our privateers to perform missions of national 

One of the first privateers to get to sea in 1778 
was the 16-gun brig Hazard, Captain John Foster 
Williams, of Massachusetts. She captured a brig 
and a schooner. On the 16th of March, 1779, the 
Hazard, while cruising off St. Thomas, fell in with 
the English brig Active, Captain Sims, carrying eight- 
een guns, with sixteen swivels, and a complement 
of one hundred men. An action quickly followed, and 
after thirty-seven minutes of spirited fighting the 
enemy surrendered, having thirteen men killed and 
twenty wounded; the loss of the Americans being 
three killed and five wounded. 

Soon after this the Hazard had a battle with an 
English bomb ship of fourteen guns and eighty men, 
the Hazard's original complement of ninety men hav- 
ing by this time been reduced to about fifty men. 
Realizing their advantage in numbers, the British 


made several attempts to board, when, after being 
repelled each time with heavy loss, they sheered off. 
In the summer of 1779 the Hazard joined the Penob- 
scot expedition, and in August was burned to prevent 
her falling into the hands of the enemy. 

Some time in 1778 the privateers Benningfon and 
Bunker Hill got to sea and made fairly successful 
cruises. The former, commanded by Captain W. New- 
ton, and afterward by Captain R. Craig, was a sloop 
mounting six guns and four swivels, and was manned 
by fifteen men. She was commissioned from Mary- 
land and captured a valuable ship. In the following 
year she took a British privateer of twelve guns. The 
Bunker Hilly a schooner of ten guns, with a comple- 
ment of forty-five men, under Captain S. Thompson, 
from Connecticut, in 1778 made one prize. 

The privateer brigs Columbus and Favorite also 
made cruises in 1778, in which they captured one ves- 
sel each. The Columbus, carrying twelve guns and 
thirty men, under Captain T. Moore, took the sloop 
St. Peter, while the Favorite, Captain Lamb, captured 
a ship armed with sixteen guns, having a cargo of 

The 6-gun sloop Eagle, Captain E. Conkling, had a 
more exciting experience. She went to sea with only 
thirty men, and in one cruise made six prizes. In 
manning these vessels Captain Conkling reduced his 
own crew to fifteen men, who, besides having the 
work of handling the sails, were compelled to guard 
the large number of prisoners taken aboard. It was 
not long before the British prisoners realized the 
critical position in which the Americans had been 
placed, and, seizing a favorable opportunity, they rose 
on their captors, and killing all except two boys took 
possession of the Eagle and endeavored to run her 
into a British port. Before reaching a place of safety, 
however, the Eagle fell in with the American priva- 
teer Hancock and was retaken. In 1779 the Eagle, 
while in New York, was blown up. 


The splendid privateer ships General Putnam and 
Marllorough got to sea in the spring of 1778. The 
former, carrying twenty guns and one hundred and 
fifty men, under Captain T. Allen, from Connecticut, 
captured a brig with a cargo of provisions. The Marl- 
borough, Captain Babcock, from Massachusetts, was 
one of the most successful privateers in this war, 
having made, in all, twenty-eight prizes; one of them 
a slaver with three hundred negroes aboard. 

Perhaps next to the Marllorough in point of num- 
ber of prizes was a mere boat armed with only two 
guns and manned by twenty men. In spite of her 
unprepossessing name this boat, called the Skunk, 
commissioned in New Jersey, is reported to have sent 
in no less than nineteen prizes, many of them of con- 
siderable value. 

In June, 1778, the armed sloop Volante, Captain 
Daniel, of Connecticut, captured the sloop Ranger, 
carrying eight guns and thirty-five men; and about 
the same time the 18-gun ship Minerva, Captain J. 
Earle afterward commanded by Captain J. Angus 
from Pennsylvania, made a prize of a schooner. The 
Minerva had a complement of sixty men. 

The 6-gun brig Monmouth, of Massachusetts, Cap- 
tain D. Ingersol, captured one vessel in 1778, but 
afterward the prize was shipwreck near Ports- 
mouth, her crew of eleven men perishing. In the fol- 
lowing year the Monmouih made a cruise in which 
she took two brigs, a schooner, and a sloop. The last 
was in charge of a midshipman in the Royal Navy, 
who had four men with him. 

For American privateersmen September seems to 
have been the luckiest month in the year 1778. On 
September 6th the 10-gun brig Gerard, Captain J. 
Josiah, of Pennsylvania, while cruising in company 
with the American privateer Convention, met a sail 
which immediately aroused suspicions. Chase was 
promptly given, and in spite of the utmost endeavors 
of the people in the chase the American privateers 


soon had her under their guns. On investigation the 
stranger proved to be an American privateer, the 
sloop Active, which, having made several prizes, had 
taken aboard a number of prisoners. These prison- 
ers, as in the case of the sloop Eagle, just noticed, had 
risen on their captors and made themselves masters 
of the sloop. To make sure that there would be no 
repetition of this experience, Captain Josiah escorted 
the Active into Philadelphia. 

On September 17th the 18-gun brig Vengeance, 
Captain Newman, of Massachusetts, having a com- 
plement of one hundred men, fell in with the British 
packet ship Harriet, mounting sixteen guns and 
manned by forty-five men. Although the Harriet was 
a packet ship, selected for that service especially be- 
cause of her great speed, she was unable to keep her 
lead on the American privateer, which, after a hard 
chase of several hours, overhauled her and forced a 
battle. Newman reserved his fire until within musket 
shot, when he delivered his broadside, the English- 
men responding with spirit. In fifteen minutes, how- 
ever, the superiority of American gunnery asserted 
itself and the enemy surrendered, having a number 
killed or wounded. On the part of the Americans 
one man was killed. 

Four days after this Captain Newman had the 
good fortune to fall in with another packet ship, the 
Eagle, of fourteen guns, having a crew of sixty men. 
Again were the superior sailing qualities of the 
American privateer emphatically shown, for after 
a long chase the Vengeance overtook, the swift Eagle 
and brought her into action. As in his engagement 
with the Harriet, Captain Newman reserved his shot 
until within the closest range, when he delivered his 
fire with great effect. The Englishmen fought with 
their usual bravery, but in twenty minutes were com- 
pelled to haul down their colors, having several of 
their number killed or wounded among the former 
a colonel. Aboard the prize were four lieutenant 


colonels and three majors who had taken passage in 
the Eagle so as to join their regiments in America. 
On August 14, 1779, while under the command of 
Captain Thomas, the Vengeance was destroyed in the 
Penobscot expedition. Another armed vessel, 
mounting sixteen guns, called Vengeance, while under 
the command of Captain Deane, in October, 1779, 
had a well-contested action with the British brig 
Defiance, carrying fourteen guns and seventy-two 
men. The Englishmen finally were overcome, hav- 
ing fifteen of their number killed or wounded, while 
the American loss was eight. 

It was on September 19, 1778, that one of the 
most dramatic actions in which an American priva- 
teer was concerned took place. Eeaders of American 
naval history are familiar with the tragic fate of the 
United States 32-gun frigate Randolph, which on 
March 7, 1778, gave battle to the British 74-gun ship 
of the line Yarmouth in order to save a convoy of mer- 
chantmen which was under the Randolph's protec- 
tion. An unlucky shot from the Yarmouth ignited 
the Randolph's magazine and blew her to pieces, only 
four of her complement of three hundred and fifteen 
men being saved. Only a few months after this, or 
on September 19th, this sea tragedy was repeated, 
with the difference that this time it was the British, 
not the American, that was blown up. 

On the day mentioned the privateer General Han- 
cock, Captain Hardy, of Massachusetts, carrying 
twenty guns and a crew of one hundred and fifty 
men, fell in with the British 32-gun ship Levant, Cap- 
tain J. Martin, manned by over one hundred men. 
After an action of about three hours a shot from the 
General Hancock reached the Levant's magazine and 
blew her up, all on board perishing excepting the 
boatswain and seventeen men. It is a singular coin- 
cidence that both the ill-starred Randolph and Levant 
carried the same number of guns. 

Soon after this Captain Hardy came across a fleet 


of twenty-one sail under the protection of several war 
vessels. By adroit maneuvering Hardy managed to 
cut out the 8-gun ship Lady ErsJcine. In this affair the 
General Hancock was assisted by the American priva- 
teer Beaver. 

The little privateer sloop Providence, Captain J. 
Conner, of Pennsylvania, made several successful ven- 
tures in 1778 and in 1779, capturing the ship Nancy, 
the brigs Chase and Bella, and the schooner Friend- 
ship. Captain Conner placed a prize crew aboard the 
Nancy, with orders to make for the most available 
American port. When the privateer had disappeared 
below the horizon, the British prisoners in the Nancy, 
seizing a favorable opportunity, suddenly fell upon 
their captors, overpowered them, and regained pos- 
session of their ship. Before they had proceeded far 
on their new course, however, the Nancy again fell in 
with the Providence and was recaptured. 

It was some time in 1778 that the American 12- 
gun privateer True American, Captain Buffington, of 
Massachusetts, had a severe engagement with a West 
India letter of marque. Unfortunately the details of 
this affair have not been preserved. 

Perhaps one of the most formidable privateers that 
put to sea in the year 1778 was the Black Prince, of 
Massachusetts, Captain West. This vessel was built 
expressly for privateering, being among the first of 
this class of formidable war craft to get to sea. She 
is said to have been an exceptionally handsome speci- 
men of naval architecture. Carrying eighteen guns, 
with a complement of one hundred and sixty men, 
this fine ship put to sea in October, 1778, and cap- 
tured a snow and two brigs. In the following year 
she was attached to the Penobscot expedition and 
was destroyed. 



IN following the career of Andrew Sherburne, a 
boy privateersman in the Bevolution, the reader will 
become familiar with a phase of privateering of which 
too little is known. Sherbnrne began his sea life at 
the age of fourteen by entering the United States 
cruiser Ranger soon after her return from her cele- 
brated cruise in the Irish Sea under Captain John 
Paul Jones. The Ranger sailed from Boston in June, 
1779, under the command of Captain Simpson, one of 
her lieutenants in her fight with the Drake. After a 
successful career in the West Indies the Ranger re- 
turned to Boston in August refitted, and, getting to 
sea again, made a short cruise, and then put into 
Charleston, where she was captured by the Brit- 
ish, together with several Continental cruisers. 

As the Ranger had been built at Portsmouth, New 
Hampshire, the patriotic citizens of that place, on 
learning of her loss, built another ship, which they 
called the Alexander, to be used as a privateersman, 
the command of her also being given to Captain 
Simpson. Young Sherburne, with most of the officers 
and men of the Ranger, enlisted in her. The Alexander 
got to sea in December, 1780, and returned to port 
after a profitless cruise of several weeks. Sherburne 
had intended to sail in her again, but he happened to 
meet a stranger in the streets of Portsmouth one day 
who persuaded him to go aboard the fishing schooner 
Greyhound, that Captain Jacob Willis, of Kennebunk, 


was fitting out as a privateersman. Sailors at that 
time were very scarce, and peculiar methods were em- 
ployed to fill out complements. Sherburne was taken 
into the cabin and introduced to the officers, who 
made themselves extremely agreeable to the budding 
privateersman, patting him on the head, saying that 
he was a fine-looking youngster, etc., and finally ask- 
ing him to sing. Even this elaborate flattery did not 
secure the boy, who still held off, but promised to con- 
sider the offer. He remained aboard the Greyhound 
while she ran down to Old York, a small port nine 
miles east of Portsmouth, in the hope of enticing 
more seamen aboard. The officers of the Greyhound 
went ashore, put up at a tavern, and gave what they 
called " a jovial evening," to which all seafaring men 
were invited. When the company had become suffi- 
ciently " jolly," the officers went among the men en- 
deavoring to induce them to enlist. Several were 
shipped in this manner. 

Stopping at several other ports for the same pur- 
pose the Greyhound put to sea and appeared off Hali- 
fax. Here, during a gale of wind, she was chased by 
a large schooner and overtaken, but the stranger 
proved to be an American privateer. Eunning close 
into Halifax harbor, Captain Willis discovered a ship 
that appeared to be in distress, and believing that 
she might prove a rich prize he ran down, and did 
not realize that she was a British cruiser until within 
gunshot. The Greyhound turned in flight, with the 
"crippled merchantman" in full chase. In a few 
minutes it was seen that the stranger was neither 
crippled nor a dull sailer, for she rapidly overhauled 
the American and would have captured her had not 
a heavy fog rolled over, completely enveloping both 
vessels and enabling the Greyhound) by changing her 
course, to escape. 

After this adventure Captain Willis changed his 
cruising ground to the mouth of the St. Lawrence. A 
large number of sails were seen, but they all proved to 


be Americans on the same business as the Greyhound. 
Touching at a small group of islands, where the priva- 
teer took aboard several dozen bushels of wild bird 
eggs, Captain Willis fell in with "an independent 
English fisherman " that is, one who was not in the 
employ of the British company that had a monopoly 
of fishing in those waters from whom he learned 
that an English brig had recently entered Fortune 
Bay with supplies for the fishing stations. The Grey- 
hound did not find the brig, but captured several fish- 
ing shallops, two of which were manned and ordered 
to the United States. 

Young Sherburne was placed in one of these, the 
Greyhound .meantime making for Salem. While en- 
deavoring to cross the Gulf of St. Lawrence the shal- 
lop in which Sherburne had been placed met heavy 
weather, and in a few days sighted a strange vessel. 
Sherburne says: "We sometimes thought whether it 
might not be another prize that the privateer had 
taken. Shortly, however, most of us were rather in- 
clined to think it was the enemy. She continued to 
gain upon us and we discovered that her crew were 
rowing. . . . They soon began to fire upon us with 
long buccaneer pieces, into which they put eight or 
ten common musket balls for a charge. The first time 
they fired they did not strike us, but we heard their 
bullets whistle over our heads. The second time their 
charge went through the head of the mainsail, and 
the third time it went through the middle of our main- 
sail. We now heaved to. In a few minutes they were 
alongside of us and twenty men sprang aboard with 
these long guns in their hands, loaded, cocked, and 
primed, and presented two or three at each of our 
breasts without ceremony, cursing us bitterly and 
threatening our lives. We pleaded for quarter, but 
they, with violence, reprimanded us, and seemed de- 
termined to take our lives, after they had sufficiently 
gratified themselves with the most bitter impreca- 
tions that language could afford. There were one or 

1781. IN THE ENEMY'S HANDS. 123 

two who interceded for us. One of these was their 
commander, but their entreaties seemed to increase 
the rage of some of the others. We stood trembling 
and awaiting their decisions, not presuming to re- 
monstrate, for some of them seemed to be perfect 
furies. At length their captain and several others, 
who seemed more rational, prevailed on those heady 
fellows to forbear their rashness. 

"Their first business was to get the prizes 
under way for their own port, which was called 
Grand Bank. By this time, say two or three o'clock, 
there was quite a pleasant breeze. The Newfound- 
landers (for I am inclined, for the present, to for- 
bear calling them English or the Irish) made it their 
business to go into particular inquiries as to what 
had transpired with us since we left the bay. One 
of us had a copy of the Greyhound's commission as a 
privateer. The wind being fair, we arrived at 
Grand Bank before night, and almost the whole vil- 
lage were collected to see the Yankee prisoners. 
We were taken on shore and soon surrounded, per- 
haps by a hundred people. Among them was an 
old English lady of distinction who appeared to 
have an excellent education, and to whose opinion 
and instructions they all seemed to pay an especial 
deference. She was the only person. among them 
who inquired after papers. I presented the com- 
missions. This lady took them and commenced read- 
ing them audibly and without interruption until 
she came to the clause in the privateer's letter of 
marque and reprisal which authorized to 'burn, 
sink, or destroy/ etc. Many of the people became 
so exceedingly exasperated that they swore that we 
ought to be killed outright. They were chiefly west 
countrymen and Irishmen, rough and quite uncul- 
tivated, and were in a state of complete anarchy. 
There was neither magistrate nor minister among 
them. They appeared very loyal, however, to his 
majesty. The old lady interposed, and soon called 


them to order. She informed them that we were 
prisoners of war and ought to be treated with hu- 
manity and conveyed to a British armed station. 
She then went on with her reading, and closed with- 
out further interruption. This good woman gave 
directions, and they began to prepare some refresh- 
ment for us. They hung on a pot and boiled some 
corned codfish and salted pork. When it was boiled 
sufficiently, they took the pot out of doors, where 
there was a square piece of board which had a cleat 
on each edge, the corners being open. They then 
turned the pot upside down upon the board, and 
when the water was sufficiently drained away the 
board was set on a table, or rather a bench, some- 
thing higher ttian a common table, and the com- 
pany stood around this table without plates or 
forks. They had fish knives to cut their pork, but 
generally picked up the fish with their fingers, and 
had hard baked biscuit for bread. Having taken 
our refreshment, we were conducted into a cooper 
shop and locked up, the windows secured, and a 
guard placed outside." 

On the following morning the prisoners were 
placed aboard a shallop and locked in the fish room 
a dark, noisome place, where they had everything 
taken from them except the clothes they wore. 
Even their shoes were appropriated. In this filthy 
hole they were conveyed to a little harbor called 
Cornish, where they found the owner of the " inde- 
pendent fishing boat," who treated them kindly, of- 
fering them a loaf of bread and a plate of butter. 
The Americans were locked up overnight in this 
place in the warehouse, and on the following morn- 
ing they were taken six miles up the river and landed 
so as to strike across the land to Cape Placentia 
Bay. In this march of twenty miles the privateers- 
men suffered greatly, as, being without shoes, their 
feet soon became lacerated. About five miles from 
their destination they met an old Jerseyman who 


owned a number of shallops, several of which had 
been captured by American privateers. When the 
old man discovered who the prisoners were, he be- 
came highly exasperated, and insisted that they 
ought to be put to death, and, had it not been for 
the guard of seven sturdy men, he might have car- 
ried out his wishes with his own hands. Refusing 
to give food or shelter to the prisoners overnight, 
the irascible Jerseyman slammed the door in the 
faces of the travelers and went into the house. 
Thereupon the guard took possession of his brew- 
house, which, although wet and muddy, made a 
fairly good shelter for the night. 

Arriving at a small port called Morteer, where 
the inhabitants fired a gun in celebration of the ad- 
vent of " Yankee prisoners," our adventurers were 
placed aboard a fishing boat and taken to Placen- 
tia, the largest fishing station in that part of New- 
foundland. It was now May, 1781, and in Septem- 
ber the British sloop of war Duchess of Cumberland, 
Captain Samuel Marsh formerly the American pri- 
vateer Congress, built at Beverly, Massachusetts, 
which had recently been captured and taken into 
the English service came into port, and, taking the 
Americans aboard, sailed for St. John's, Newfound- 
land, where there was a prison ship in which a num- 
ber of our seamen had been confined. 

On the night of September 19th, while the Duchess 
of Cumberland was on her passage to St. John's, she 
was wrecked on a desert island, and twenty of her 
one hundred and seventy people were lost. After 
enduring great hardships, the survivors regained 
Placentia, where our privateersmen were again 
placed in the garrison house. About the end of 
the following October the British sloop of war Fairy, 
Captain Teo, came into the harbor, and, taking 
the Americans aboard, carried them to Plymouth, 
England, where they were confined in Old Mill 


Captain Teo was the father of Sir James Lucas 
Yeo, who became notorious in our naval war with 
Great Britain in 1812, and it is probable that James 
was aboard the Fairy in 1781, as Captain Teo is 
known to have had his son with him. It was Sir 
James who wrote, in September, 1812: "Sir James 
Yeo presents his compliments to Captain Porter, of 
the American frigate Esse$ 9 and would be glad to 
have a t8te4rt8te anywhere between the Capes of 
Delaware and Havana, where he would have the 
pleasure to break his sword over his damned head 
and put him down forward in irons." We now get 
our first insight into the character of the Yeos. 
Young Sherburne describes Captain Yeo as a " com- 
plete tyrant." He writes: "Willis and myself were 
called upon the quarter-deck, and, after being asked 
a few questions by Captain Yeo, he turned to his 
officers and said: 'They are a couple of fine lads for 
his majesty's service. Mr. Gray, see that they do 
their duty, one in the f oretop and the other in the 
maintop.' I said that I was a .prisoner of war, and 
that I could not consent to serve against my coun- 
try. With very hard words and several threats we 
were ordered off the quarter-deck and commanded 
to do our duty in the waist. . . . While lying at St. 
John's we had an opportunity of seeing some of Cap- 
tain Yeo's character exhibited. It was contrary to 
orders to bring any spirituous liquors aboard. It 
was the custom to hoist in the boat at night, lest 
any of the men should elude the guard, steal the 
boat, and run away. One evening, as the boat was 
hoisted in, there was a bottle of rum discovered in 
the boat. No one of the boat's crew would own the 
bottle, and the next morning the whole crew, six in 
number, were seized up to the gangway, with their 
shirts stripped off, and each received a dozen lashes. 
It was very common for this captain to have his 
men thus whipped for very trifling faults, and some- 
times when faultless. At a certain hour the cook 


gives out word to the men and officers' waiters that 
they may have hot water to wash their dishes, etc. 
One day a midshipman's boy called on the cook for 
hot water. The cook had none, and reprimanded 
the lad for not coming in proper season. The boy 
complained to his master, whose rank on board was 
no higher than the cook's, and who was himself but 
a boy. The midshipman came forward and began 
to reprimand the cook, who told him, that had the 
boy come at the proper time he would have had hot 
water enough, but that he should not now furnish 
him or any one else. This young blood made his com- 
plaint to the captain that he was insulted by the 
cook, who was a man in years, and who for this af- 
front, offered to a gentleman's son, must be brought 
to the gangway and take his dozen lashes. I be- 
lieve that the laws of the navy do not admit of a 
warrant officer being punished without he is first 
tried and condemned by a court-martial. I under- 
stand that the captain had violated the laws of the 
navy in a number of instances. He had a number 
of men in irons on the whole passage to England." 
On arrival in Plymouth, Captain Yeo was super- 
seded in the command of the Fairy by a new cap- 
tain. Young Sherburne notes the change of com- 
manders as follows: "Captain Yeo took leave of 
his ship without any ceremony of respect being 
shown him from the crew. Shortly after the new 
captain came on board, and was saluted with three 
cheers from the crew." 

In striking contrast to the brutal temperament 
of Captain Yeo, we have that of the Fairy's carpen- 
ter. Two days after Yeo had compelled the two 
American lads to serve against their country, all 
hands were called. Sherburne and Willis went to 
the cable tier, the proper place for prisoners of war, 
and on the boatswain approaching them and de- 
manding why they refused to obey the call for all 
hands the boys said that they considered them- 


selves prisoners. "Tell me nothing about prison- 
ers," he said. " Upon deck immediately! " " We still 
kept our stations and remonstrated," records Sher- 
burne. " He uttered a number of most horrid impre- 
cations, and at the same time commenced a most 
furious attack upon us with his rattan. We for a 
while sternly adhered to our purpose, while he al- 
ternately thrashed the one and the other. He be- 
came more and more enraged, and we, not daring to 
resist, thought it best to clear out. We mounted 
the deck, with him at our heels repeating his strokes. 
. . . The carpenter, whose name was Fox, was sit- 
ting in his berth looking on. After we returned 
from quarters Fox called me and said: <I see, my 
lad, that you are obliged to do duty. It is wrong, 
but it would not do for me to interfere; yet I was 
thinking in your favor. His majesty allows me two 
boys. If you will come into my berth and take a 
little care here, I will excuse your keeping watch 
and all other duty. You will be much less exposed 
if you stay with me than you will be if you have to 
do your duty before the mast, and it is in vain for 
you to think to escape that, for Captain Yeo is a 
very arbitrary man; he is not liked by the crew, and 
his officers do not set much by him. I intend to 
leave the ship myself when we get home.' " Arriv- 
ing at Plymouth, Fox gave further evidence of his 
kindness by offering to adopt the American boys. 
He said that he did not intend to follow the sea; 
that he had a wife, but no child. On the boys de- 
clining this generous offer, the carpenter took pains 
to put them in a way of becoming prisoners of war 
again. " In a day or two after he [the new com- 
mander] had come on board, Mr. Fox came into his 
cabin where I was and said to me: 'Sherburne, the 
captain is walking alone on the quarter-deck. I 
think it is a good time for you to speak to him. It 
may be that he will consider you as a prisoner of 
war/ " The two boys timidly approached the new 


commander and stated their position, and in an hour 
they were sent aboard the prison ship Dunkirk. 

From that place the boys were taken to Old Mill 
Prison, where they were confined several months, 
until exchanged and sent to America in a cartel. 
Young Sherburne had been in his native land only 
a few weeks when he entered a privateer the 
Scorpion, Captain E. Salter and made a cruise in 
the West Indies. On the homeward passage the 
Scorpion was captured by the British frigate Am- 
phion, and for a third time Sherburne found himself 
a prisoner of war. This time he was taken to New 
York and placed in the infamous ship Jersey, where 
he experienced the usual brutal treatment accorded 
to Americans confined there. After an imprison- 
ment of several weeks he was released in an ex- 
change of prisoners, and made his way home, the 
war by that time having ended. 


THE WORK OP 1779. 

THE winter of 1777->78, during which the Ameri- 
can army, under the immediate command of Wash- 
ington, had its headquarters at Valley Forge, has 
been popularly accepted as the darkest hour in our 
struggle for independence. The American army had 
been driven out of New York, the most important 
city in the rebelling colonies, the British had occu- 
pied Rhode Island and had undisputed possession of 
Philadelphia, and as the only material offset to 
these disasters we have the capture of Burgoyne's 
army of some eight thousand men in Northern New 
York. In the light of these reverses, the hope for 
independence was indeed forlorn. Congress, being 
largely influenced by foreign adventures, was im- 
potent, and really did more to hamper than to assist 
the American arms. Bo far as our operations on 
land were concerned, therefore, it might almost be 
said that the winter of 1777-'78 was the " darkest 
hour of the Revolution." 

When we consider the work of our maritime 
forces down to this period, however, we find that 
some of the heaviest blows at British supremacy in 
the North American colonies had been delivered 
blows that were felt by the ministry across the ocean 
more keenly than any reverses English arms had suf- 
fered on land. At the time the Continental army 
was encamped at Valley Forge, American cruisers, 
and especially privateers, were scouring the seas, 



capturing great numbers of the enemy's war craft 
and merchantmen, harassing English trade in all 
parts of the then known world, hovering on the 
coast of the British Isles, throwing their ports into 
frequent alarm, and, what is perhaps most impor- 
tant of all, maintaining communications between the 
colonies and the outside world, by means of which 
news of the victories gained by the Americans was 
carried to the French court, and specie and muni- 
tions of war were brought into the country. 

So disastrous had been the operations of our 
maritime forces on the high seas to British com- 
merce that Parliament, early in 1778, made special 
inquiries. On February 6, 1778, Alderman Wood- 
bridge testified at the bar of the House of Lords that 
" the number of ships lost by capture or destroyed 
by American privateers since the commencement of 
the war was seven hundred and thirty-three, of 
which, after deducting for those retaken and re- 
stored, there remained five hundred and fifty-nine." 
William Creighton, Esq., " not only corroborated the 
alderman in the most material points, but added 
many new facts which had fallen within his own 
knowledge. He stated the losses suffered by mer- 
chantmen in consequence of the captures made by 
the American privateers to have amounted to at 
least two million pounds sterling in October last 
[1777], and that by this time they could not be less 
than two million two hundred thousand pounds." l 

Seven hundred and thirty-three ships taken from 
the enemy by American privateers in the first two 
full years of the war! Truly an astonishing record, 
and one that might well justify posterity in regard- 
ing the winter of 1777-'78 as far from being the 
"darkest hour of the Revolution!" But the most 
astonishing feature of these achievements is that 
these vessels were captured by a comparatively 

1 Records of Parliament, Tol. xix, pp, 707-711. 


THE WOEK OF 1779. 1777-1779. 

small number of men and ships. Down to the close 
of 1777 there had been commissioned from the vari- 
ous ports of the colonies, in all, one hundred and 
seventy-four private armed craft, mounting one 
thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight guns and 
manned by nine thousand two hundred and thirty- 
six men and boys. Some of these privateers did not 
succeed in getting to sea, while others returned to 
port without making a prize, and a number were cap- 
tured by the enemy. On the other hand, some of 
these private armed craft took as many as twenty in 
a single cruise, and on one occasion twenty-eight 
prizes. But, admitting that one hundred and sev- 
enty-four of our privateers got to sea, we find that, 
taking the aggregate of seven hundred and thirty- 
three vessels, our amateur man-of-warsmen averaged 
more than four prizes each. Allowing the moderate 
estimate of fifteen men to each captured British 
merchantmen, we have a total of ten thousand nine 
hundred and ninety-five prisoners made on the high 
seas by our enterprising and daring privateersmen, 
or fully as many prisoners as our land forces took 
in the same time, with this important difference- 
namely, that many of the prisoners taken by our 
land forces were foreign mercenaries, who could be 
replaced so long as the stock of Hessians lasted, 
while the men captured by our privateers were sail- 
ors, a class of men absolutely necessary to Eng- 
land's existence as a great power, and a class she 
could not afford to lose. 

The year 1779 opened inauspiciously for Ameri- 
can privateers. On January 7th one of the newest 
and best of our armed craft, the 20-gun brig Gen- 
eral Arnold, Captain J. Magee, of Massachusetts, 
was driven ashore near Plymouth, and seventy-five 
of her complement of one hundred and twenty 
men perished. In the same month the 6-gun 
sloop General Stark, with twenty men aboard, was 
wrecked on Nantucket Shoals, and all hands lost. 



INSTRUCTIONS to tie COMMAKDERS of Private Sbtpt or refills of War. 
tebJcbJbattbavt Commlffions or Letters ef Morgue and Reprifal, atfborijmg tbem to make 
Captures ofBritj/b Ptffek and Cargoes* 

YO U may, by Force of Arms, attack, fubdue, and take an Shrps ttd* otherVeflels belonging to the 
Inhabitants of Great-Britain, on the High Seas, or between high -water and low-water Marks, except 
Sh'ips and Veflels bringing- Perfons who intend to fettle and refute in the United Colonies, or bringing 
Arms, .Ammunition or Warlike Stores to the (aid Colonies, for the Ufe of fuch Inhabitants thereof atare Friends 
to the American, Caufe, which yon fhall fuffer to pals uomolefted, the Commanders thereof permitting a peace. 
fttteSearcb, and giving fatisfagory Information of the Contents of the Ladings, and Detention** the Voyages. 


'You may, by Forte of Arms, attack, fubdne, and take all Ships and other Veuels wkatfeever carrying Soldier*, 
Arms, Gun-powder, Ammunition, Provifions, or any other contraband Goods, to any of the Britifh Armies 
or Ships of War employed againft tbefe Colonies. 

. HI. 

' You fln bring fuch Ships and Veflels as you ihall take,- with their Guns, Rigging,' Tackle* Apparel, For* 
future and Ladings', to feme convenient Port or Ports of the United Colonies, that Proceedings may thereupon 
be had in due Form before die Courts which are or Cull be there appointed to hearand determine Caufes civ U and 


You or, one of your Chief Officers ihall bring or fend the Mafter and Pilot and one or more principal Perfoa 
or Perfon* of die Company of every Ship or Veflel by you taken, is feon after die Capture as may be, to the 
Judge or Juttges of fuch Court as aforefaid, to be examined npon Oath, and make Anfwer to die Interrogatorle* 
which may be propounded touching the Intereft or Property of the Ship or Veflel and her Lading; and at die fan* 
Time you (ball deliver or caufe to be delivered to the Judge or Judges, all PaAas, Sea-Briefs, Charter-Pardc** 
B{lls of Lading, Cockets, Letters, and other Documents and Writings found on Board, proving die laid Paper* 
b.y the Affidavit of yourielf, orof feme other Perfon prefent at the Capture, to be produced a* they were weeded, 
SridioutFraud. Addition. Subduffion, or Embezzlement* 

V. _ 

"' You ftall keep and prdenre-every Ship or Veflel and Cargo by yon taken, until they (hall by Sentence of r 
Court propeily authorifed be adjudged lawful Price, not felling, fpcdling, wafting, or dinuniming the lame or* 
breaking the Bulk thereof, nor fuffering any, fuch Thing to be done. 

VI. _ _ 
If yoti or anj of your Officers or Crew ftaH, in cold Blood, kill or malm, " or, by Tortnre or otherwtte, 

cruelly, inhumanly, and contrary to common Ufage and thePraaice of civilized Nations in War, treat any Per.' 
fon or Perfons furpriwfd in the Ship or Veflel you Hull, take, die Offender flull be feverely puniihed. - ' 


Yon fliaD, by all convenient Opportunities, fend to Congrefc written Accounts of the Captures you fall 
make, with the Number and Names of the Captives, Copies of your Journal from Time to Time, and Intelli- 
gence of what may occur or be difeovered concerning die Defigns of the Enemy, and die Daftinations, Motions, 
and Operations of their Fleets and Armies. 


One Third, at die leafi* of your whole Company ihall be Land-Men. 


Yen ihall not ranfome any Prffonen or-Capfivar, but (hall dlfpofe of them la fuch Manner a* the Congreis, 
or if that be not fitting in the Colony whither they ihall be brought, as the General Aflembly, Convention, or 
Council or Committee of Safety of fuch Colony ihall direS. 

You (hall oDferve all fuch further Inflruafons as CongrefifiuOl hereafter ghre In the Premffcj, when you fiiali 
bare Notice thereof. 

Ai. __._ _ 

If you flialT do any Thing contrary to diefelnftruffions, or to others hereafter t be given, or willingly fuffer 
fuch Thing to be done, you ihall not only forfeit your Commimen, and be liable to an Action for Breach of die 
Condition of your Bond, butbcfcfponfibls to the Party grieved for Damage, foftalned by fuch Mal-vcrfetion. 

By Order of Congrffi, 


Instructions to privateers, 1776. 
From an original. 


The General Stark, also, was commissioned from 

These reverses were in some degree counterbal- 
anced by the Massachusetts 26-gun ship Protector, 
Captain John Foster Williams, which, while cruis- 
ing at sea January 9th, fell in with the British pri- 
vateer Admiral Duff, Captain B. Strange, carrying 
thirty guns and about one hundred men. The Pro- 
tector had a complement of nearly two hundred men 
and boys. The two ships quickly came to close quar- 
ters, and for an hour and a half maintained a fierce 
contest, when a shot from the Protector penetrated 
the Englishmen's magazine and blew them up, only 
fifty-five of their crew being saved. Edward Preble, 
afterward famous in the navy, was a young midship- 
man at this time, serving in the Protector. Soon 
after this the Protector had a running fight with the 
British frigate Thames, but after being within gun- 
shot several hours Captain Williams effected his es- 
cape. Ultimately the Protector was lost at sea. 

It was in 1779 that the armed sloops Active, Cap- 
tain P. Day, of Pennsylvania, and American Revenue, 
Captain N. Shaw (afterward commanded by Cap- 
tain Leeds), of Connecticut, got to sea and made im- 
portant captures. The Active carried fourteen guns, 
with sixty men, and captured, after a slight resist- 
ance, the British privateer Mercury, of eight guns, 
commanded by Captain Campbell. The American 
Revenue, armed with twelve guns and manned by 
about one hundred men, took the 8-gun schooner 
Sally, besides another schooner laden with tobacco, 
and a sloop with a cargo of rum. 

Three other armed vessels, the Baltimore Hero, the 
Oat, and the Intrepid, made prizes early this year. 
The Baltimore Hero had a drawn battle with a Brit- 
ish vessel of equal force in the Chesapeake, and 
afterward made a prize. This privateer carried 
fourteen guns, eight swivels, and a crew of thirty 
men, under Captain J. Earle. The Oat, a 2-gun 

134: THE WORK OF 1779. 1779. 

schooner with seventy men, under Captain E. Ledger, 
of Pennsylvania, made one capture, while the In- 
trepid, of New Hampshire, a ship of twenty guns 
and one hundred and sixty men, under Captain M. 
Brown, took four vessels from the enemy. 

Early in 1779 the 14-gun brig Hibernia, Captain 
E. Collins, manned by only thirty-five men, fell in 
with a king's cruiser mounting an equal number of 
guns, but having a complement of eighty men. A 
severe action followed, and it was only after sev- 
eral had been killed on each side that the vessels 
mutually separated. Another private armed brig 
bearing this name, also from Pennsylvania, but com- 
manded by Captain J. Angus, while on a voyage to 
Teneriffe, had an action with a snow mounting 
sixteen guns. The Americans managed to beat 
their adversary off. Shortly afterward this Hibernia 
was attacked by two armed schooners and a sloop, 
which she also beat off, with a loss of two killed 
and eight wounded. The loss of the British is un- 

In April the 16-gun brig Holker, manned by one 
hundred men, under Captain M. Lawler, of Pennsyl- 
vania, while at sea captured a schooner of ten guns, 
with forty-eight men, besides two armed sloops. In 
the following July the Hollcer captured, after an ac- 
tion of an hour and a half, with a loss of six 
killed and sixteen wounded, among the latter being 
Captain Lawler and his first officer, a brig of six- 
teen guns. The enemy's loss was six killed and 
twenty wounded. There was another brig bearing 
the name Holker, commissioned from the same State, 
carrying ten guns and thirty-five men, under Cap- 
tain George Geddes, which in June captured the 
British ship Diana, having on board, as a part of 
her cargo, eighty cannon, sixty swivels-, ten coehorns, 
and other military supplies. In the following Au- 
gust this Holker captured three brigs laden with 
rum and sugar, one of which was wrecked off Cape 


May. Before returning to port the Holk&r took a 
6-gun sloop laden with drygoods. 

One of the largest privateers commissioned from 
New Hampshire was the Hampden, mounting twenty- 
two guns and manned by one hundred and fifty men. 
While under the command of Captain Salter the 
Hampden, in latitude 48 north, longitude 28 west, 
fell in with a large Indiaman armed with twenty-six 
guns. The vessels began an action which lasted three 
hours, when they separated, both in a crippled condi- 
tion, the Americans having twenty-one killed or in- 
jured. The Hampden was captured by the British in 
the Penobscot expedition. They found her to be such 
a fine craft that they took her into the king's service. 

A privateer of the name Franklin, Captain J. Bob- 
inson, mounting eight guns, some time in 1779 cap- 
tured the British schooner True Blue, of ten guns, 
and two other vessels. 

In April the little 1-gun schooner Two Brothers, 
of twenty-five men, Captain W. Gray, from Massa- 
chusetts, took aboard a number of volunteers at 
Salem, and captured a privateer of eight guns and 
sixty men. In the same month the 12-gun private 
schooner Hunter, of Pennsylvania, with a comple- 
ment of sixty men, under Captain J. Douglass, fell 
in with a well-armed British ship, which she engaged 
for one hour, when the Englishmen made sail in 
flight, leaving the Americans with four men wound- 
ed. Afterward the Hunter captured a schooner. A 
privateer bearing this name, commissioned in Mas- 
sachusetts, a ship of twenty guns and one hundred 
and fifty men, under Captain Brown, was lost in the 
Penobscot expedition. 

In April of the same year the 14-gun ship Roe- 
luck, Captain G. Hemfield afterward commanded 
by Captain Gray of Massachusetts, while cruising 
off Salem, captured the British privateer Castor, of 
eight guns and sixty men. 

In June, 1779, the 10-gun sloop Hancock, Captain 

136 THE WORK OF 1779. 1779. 

T. Chester, of Connecticut, captured the British 
armed schooner HawJce, and in the same month the 
little schooner Terrible, Captain J. Baker, of Penn- 
sylvania, made a prize of a schooner. In August 
the 18-gun brig Hancock, Captain P. Eichards, of 
Connecticut, captured three brigs laden with rum. 

In the following month prizes were taken by the 
8-gun brig Impertinent, Captain J. Young, of Penn- 
sylvania, by the 6-gun brig Macaroni, and by the 
12-gun brig Wild Cat. It was on July 6th that the 
Impertinent fell in with a suspicious-looking sail, and 
promptly gave chase. The American brig rapidly 
gained, and it was seen that the stranger was light- 
ening herself by throwing overboard heavy articles, 
some of which afterward were known to have been 
her cannon. In spite of these extreme measures the 
fleeing Englishman for such the stranger proved 
to be steadily lost ground, and soon was under the 
Impertinent' s guns. The stranger surrendered at the 
first summons, and on sending a boat aboard Cap- 
tain Young learned that it was the king's cruiser 
Harlem, of fourteen guns, with a crew of eighty-five 
men. The commander of the Harlem, when he found 
that he must be overtaken, got into a boat with a 
few men and endeavored to escape, but before they 
had proceeded any great distance the boat upset, 
and all hands were lost. 

A brig and two schooners were captured by the 
Macaroni, Captain D. Keybold, of Pennsylvania, in 
July, and on the 13th of the same month the 14-gun 
craft Wild Oat, with a complement of seventy-five 
men, after a severe action, took the king's schooner 
Egmont, commanded by a lieutenant in the Royal 
Navy. Before the Wild Gat could secure her prize, 
however, she was captured by the British frigate 

One of the first prizes made by an American pri- 
vateer in August, 1779, was the brig Pitt, loaded 
with rum and sugar, which was taken by the 18-gun 

1779. TAKING A ZING'S SHIP. 137 

schooner Jay, Captain Courier, with one hundred 
men, from Pennsylvania. About the same time the 
14-gun brig Mars, Captain Y. Taylor, of the same 
State, captured the British sloop Active, mounting 
twelve guns, under the command of Captain Irvine. 
This vessel was taken by boarding, the English hav- 
ing their first officer and steward killed. The Mars 
also captured the transport brig Polly, having on 
board two hundred and fourteen Hessians, besides 
a snow of fourteen guns and forty-five men. These 
vessels were taken off Sandy Hook. The snow was 
retaken by the British on the following day. It was 
in August of this year that the 12-gun sloop Polly, 
with one hundred men, under Captain Leech, of Mas- 
sachusetts, took a brig laden with tobacco. 

In September the 6-gun sloop Happy Return, Cap- 
tain J. Leach, of New Jersey, took a brig, and two 
sloops laden with fustic and rum, and in the follow- 
ing month Captain Craig, of the Continental army, 
with a detachment of his company, captured the 
British sloop Neptune, carrying ten guns, four swiv- 
els, and two coehorns, manned by twenty-one men, 
near Elizabethtown. Before her cargo could be got 
ashore, however, a British war ship appeared and 
recaptured the Neptune. 

Some of the other privateers making prizes this 
year were the 18-gun ship OUver Cromwell, Captain 
Parker, of Massachusetts, which captured a tender 
of ten guns belonging to the ship of the line St. 
George the Oliver Cromwell also took a ship and a 
schooner, making sixty prisoners in all the Pallas, 
of Massachusetts, which took a ship loaded with pro- 
visions, and the 6-gun brig Resolution, Captain Z. 
Seare, of Massachusetts, which made five prizes. 
The private armed sloop Sally, Captain J. Smith, of 
New York, had a severe battle with a British trans- 
port carrying eight guns. The vessels finally sepa- 
rated by mutual consent, the Americans having a 
loss of five killed and twelve wounded. 



THE action between the Kearsarge and the Ala- 

ima, fought off Cherbourg, June 19, 1864, has justly 

een regarded as one of the most dramatic naval 

uels on record. Farragut, in a letter to his son, 

dd of it: "I would sooner have fought that fight 

lian any ever fought on the ocean. Only think! It 

r as fought like a tournament, in full view of thou- 

a,nds of French and English, with a perfect confi- 

ence, on the part of all but the Union people, that 

re would be whipped." There was an action fought 

etween an American and an English privateer off 

tie Spanish coast nearly a hundred years before 

his, however, which may well be called the " Kear- 

wge-Alabama, fight of the Revolution." Like the 

amous naval duel in the civil war, this action took 

lace near land, where thousands of people watched 

he struggle in breathless eagerness or wildly 

peculated on the result. The battle referred to 

ras fought off Bilboa, June 4, 1780, between the 

onerican privateer General Pickering, commanded 

y Jonathan Haraden, and the British letter of 

larque Achilles, of London. The General Pickering 

ras from Salem, where she had been fitted out and 

lanned. She was a ship of one hundred and eighty 

ons, mounted fourteen 6-pounders the ordinary 

aliber in ships of her class in that day and car- 

ied a crew of forty-five men and boys. 

Haraden was one of the most daring and skillful 


navigators that ever sailed from Salem, and that 
is saying a great deal when we come to consider the 
long list of successful commanders who have hailed 
from that port. He belonged to that group of men 
who have made old Salem town famous the world 
over, such as John Carnes, Benjamin Crowninshield, 
Thomas Benson, John Felt, William Gray, Joseph 
Waters, Simon Forrester, Thomas Perkins, and John 
Derby. Haraden had the reputation of being one 
of the most intrepid commanders known even to 
Salem ship lore. It has been said of him, that " amid 
the din of battle he was calm and self-possessed. 
The more deadly the strife, the more imminent the 
peril, the more terrific the scene, the more perfect 
seemed his self-command and serene intrepidity. He 
was a hero among heroes, and his name should live 
in honored and affectionate remembrance." Bather 
lavish praise, but the man deserved it, as will soon 

Haraden certainly was ^daring sailor and a sea- 
man of extraordinary ability. His many successes 
in the struggle for independence fully bear out this 
statement, and entitle him to be placed with such 
naval heroes of the Eevolution as Oonnyngham, 
Whipple, Hopkins, and John Paul Jones. He was 
born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1745, and died 
in Salem in 1803, spending most of his active life on 
the sea. He came to Salem as a boy and entered 
the service of Bichard Cabot, father of the presi- 
dent of the famous Hartford Convention. Soon 
after hostilities broke out between the American 
colonies and the mother country he hastened to draw 
his sword in defense of his native land, and early 
in 1776 was appointed a " lieutenant " in the Tyr<m- 
nidde, commanded by Captain J. Fiske, of Salem. 
The name of this vessel is sufficiently suggestive of 
the spirit of her owners and crew, and she soon 
justified the appellation in a striking manner by- 
capturing a royal cutter and carrying her in tri- 


aph into Salem, the prize being bound from Hali- 
x to New York with important papers aboard. In 
e same cruise the Tyrannicide, June 13, 1776, had 
spirited action with the British packet schooner 
espatch, carrying eight guns, twelve swivels, and 
irty-one men. The privateer was a brig carrying 
urteen guns and one hundred men. After a lively 
*ht of about an hour the Despatch surrendered, hav- 
.g sustained a loss of seven men wounded, with her 
>mmander, Mr. Gutteridge, and one killed. The 
mericans had one man killed and two wounded. In 
xe following month the Tyrannicide captured the 
rmed ship Glasgow and made thirty prisoners. In 
.ugust she took the brig St. John and the schooner 
hree Brothers. In the following year this vessel, 
hile in company with the privateer brig Massa- 
lusetts, of that State, attacked the British bark 
awnsdale, and after a struggle lasting three hours 
iptured her. The enemy had three men killed. In 
le same cruise the Massachusetts took a ship and 
ix other vessels, in one of which were sixty-three 
[essian chasseurs. 

On the 29th of March, 1779, the Tyrcwnicide, while 
raising off Bermuda, fell in with the English brig 
tevenge, Captain Kendall, carrying fourteen guns 
nd eighty-five men. The privateer at this time had 
complement of ninety men, but mounted the same 
umber of guns as formerly, so that the two vessels 
'ere about evenly matched. The ships quickly came 
3 Qlose quarters, and it was not long before the 
jnericans managed to make fast alongside. Then 
egan a tooth-and-nail fight. For over an hour the 
wo crews fought each other over their bulwarks, 
rhen the English, having a large number of killed 
r wounded and two of their cannon dismounted, 
urrender.ed. The Americans had eight men 
rounded. This was the last important service per- 
ormed by the Tyrannicide. She was one of the thir- 
een privateers that took part in the ill-fated Penob- 


scot expedition, and was destroyed by her own 
people, August 14, 1779, to prevent her falling into 
the hands of the enemy. 

Having received his baptism of fire in this well- 
named vessel, Haraden was not long in finding a 
suitable berth, and in the spring of 1780 he sailed 
from Salem as commander of the 180-ton priva- 
teer General Pickering, with a cargo of sugar for 
Bilboa. At that time this port was a famous ren- 
dezvous for privateers, not only of the United 
States, but for those of England and Prance. It 
was customary for our ships .to sail for this place 
with a cargo of sugar, and capture a prize or two 
on the passage over if possible. After disposing of 
the sugar the privateers went on a general cruise 
after the enemy's merchantmen, filling their empty 
holds with such goods as they could readily move 
from a prize and returning to the United States, 
where the cargoes were sold to the best advantage. 

On this passage over Haraden had an unusually 
exciting time. On May 29th he was attacked by a 
British cutter, but although his antagonist carried 
six guns more than he did Haraden, after a desper- 
ate fight of two hours, succeeded in beating the 
e'nemy off. As the General Pickering entered the Bay 
of Biscay she fell in with the English privateer 
schooner Golden Eagle, carrying twenty-two guns 
and sixty men, the American mounting only sixteen 
cannon. Having come upon the Englishman at 
night and unobserved, and having formed a fairly ac- 
curate idea of her force, Haraden boldly ran along- 
side and called on the stranger to surrender, declar- 
ing at the same time that his craft was an American 
frigate of the largest class, and that he would blow 
the British privateer out of water if she did not 

This was no ill-considered threat on the part of 
the General Pickering's commander, for less than a 
year before Captain John Paul Jones, in the Bon- 


homme Richard, had sunk one of the finest frigates 
in the British navy, the Serapis, within pistol-shot 
of the English coast, and such was the effect of that 
astounding achievement on the mind of the British 
public that the most extravagant stories as to the 
number and force of Yankee war ships, and as to 
their whereabouts and daring, found ready cre- 
dence. So when Haraden announced himself as hav- 
ing an " American frigate of the largest class " he 
well knew, from what he had learned of the con- 
sternation produced in Great Britain by the unparal- 
leled victories of the American navy, that his con- 
fused enemy would be more than likely to believe 
it. Such proved to be the case, for the Englishmen 
were taken so completely by surprise that they were 
unable to make any defense, and promptly struck 
their flag. When the British skipper came aboard 
the General Pickering he expressed great humiliation 
at having given in to such an inferior force. But 
it was too late to repent, for Second Officer John 
Games had been sent aboard the Golden Eagle with 
a prize crew, and soon had the Stars and Stripes 
waving at her gaff. 

It was only a few days after this that the General 
Pickering gave battle to the Achilles. Early in the 
morning of June 3d, when the American privateer 
was approaching Bilboa, a large sail was observed 
working out of that port. Inquiring of his prisoner, 
the master of the captured schooner, Haraden was 
told that the stranger was the AcMlles, a privateer 
of London, mounting forty-two guns and carrying 
one hundred and forty men. Thinking that this 
might be merely a trick on the part of the com- 
mander of the Golden Eagle to induce the American 
to run away from the sail, or to surrender if he once 
found himself under the AcMles's guns, Haraden 
coolly replied, " I shan't run from her," and boldly 
held on his course. The light wind prevented the 
vessels from coming together that day, but the 


Americans saw enough of the stranger to realize 
that they were in the presence of a powerful foe. 
Before sunset the Achilles for such she proved to be 
had recaptured the General Pickering's prize, and 
placing a crew aboard slowly beat to a favorable 
position for attacking the Americans. Night com- 
ing on, the British deferred their attack until day- 
light so as make sure of the Yankee so nearly within 
their grasp. The presence of the powerful Achilles 
did not in the least disturb Haraden,for it is recorded 
that he took a " sound night's sleep and recruited 
a boatswain and eight sailors from his prisoners 
in the morning, when they went to work on shore." 

By this time the news had spread that an Ameri- 
can and British war ship, in full view of the land, 
were about to fight, and thousands of people flocked 
down to the water's edge and occupied all vantage 
points, eager to witness a naval battle. They were 
disappointed that day, but when day broke June 
4th it found the ships ready for action, and the same 
multitude of Spaniards again assembled and impa- 
tiently waited to see the contest. 

The British lost no time in beginning the attack, 
and shortly after daylight they bore down on the 
Yankees with confident hurrahs. But Haraden had 
made his preparations for defense with his usual 
skill. Availing himself of the conformation of the 
land and some shoals which he knew to be in the 
vicinity, he placed his ship in such a position that 
the Englishman, in approaching, would be exposed 
to a raking fire from the General Pickering's entire 
broadside. It so happened that the wind gradually 
died out, just as the British were getting into effec- 
tive range, so that they were exposed to a murder- 
ous raking fire from the Americans much longer 
than they had counted upon* Still the English com- 
mander had a vastly superior force, and as it would 
never do for a British war ship to run away from an 
American of inferior strength, especially when thou- 


sands of Spaniards were watching every move, lie 
bravely held on his course. 

After enduring the destructive fire from the 
General Pickering about two hours, without being 
able to gain his desired position, the British com- 
mander brought the head of his ship about and 
opened with his broadside guns. Several efforts 
were made to bring the ships into closer quarters, 
but conscious of the advantage his position gave 
him, and knowing that he had a brave foe with 
superior force to contend with, Haraden tenaciously 
maintained his tactics, and finally, after a battle of 
three hours, he compelled the Achilles to make sail 
to escape. It is said that toward the close of the 
action Haraden, finding himself running short of 
ammunition, ordered his gunner to load with crow- 
bars, which had been taken out of a prize. This 
"flight of crowbars" produced the utmost con- 
sternation in the English craft, and is believed to 
have precipitated her retreat. The General Pickermg 
vainly endeavored to come up with her. Haraden 
offered a large reward to the gunner who carried 
away one of the Englishman's spars, but for once 
" the man behind the gun " was not equal to the 
emergency, and the Achilles escaped. The Ameri- 
cans did succeed, however, in retaking their prize, 
which was carried safely into Bilboa. Aboard the 
Golden Eagle were found a British prize crew and 
the second officer of the Achilles. 

So interested had the people on shore become in 
the battle that they took to boats and drew nearer 
and nearer to the contestants, until finally, toward 
the close of the action, the General Pickering found 
herself literally surrounded by a wildly enthusiastic 
crowd. This impromptu escort of boats accom- 
panied the privateer and her prize to their anchor- 
age in the harbor, and soon after they dropped an- 
chor it is stated that it was possible to have walked 
ashore over the craft of all kinds that swarmed 

1780. A CLEVER RUSE. 145 

about. Captain Haraden had occasion to go ashore 
shortly afterward, and so great was the enthusiasm 
and admiration of the Spaniards over his heroic de- 
fense that they raised him bodily on their shoulders 
and bore him in triumph through the city. 

The venerable Eobert Cowan, who witnessed this 
battle, said, shortly before he died: "The General 
Pickering, in comparison with her antagonist, looked 
like a longboat by the side of a ship." Speaking of 
Haraden's conduct in the battle, Cowan said: "He 
fought with a determination that seemed super- 
human, and that, although in the most exposed posi- 
tions, where the shot flew around him, he was all 
the while as calm and steady as amid a shower of 

Eeturning to the United States after this adven- 
ture Captain Haraden, in October, while off Sandy 
Hook, fell in with three armed merchantmen the 
ship Hope, carrying fourteen guns; the brig Pomone, 
of twelve guns; and the cutter Royal George, of four- 
teen guns. By skillful maneuvering Haraden man- 
aged to separate the enemy, and after an exciting 
action of an hour and a half captured all of them. 

During the Eevolution Haraden captured vessels 
from the enemy the guns of which aggregated over 
one thousand. In one of his cruises, subsequent to 
his heroic fight with the Achilles, Haraden, still in 
command of his favorite ship, the General Pickering, 
fell in with a homeward-bound king's packet from 
one of the West India islands. This ship proved to 
be unusually heavily armed and manned, so that 
after an action of four hours Haraden found it 
necessary to haul off to repair damages. He also 
discovered that he had expended all but one round 
of his ammunition. An ordinary commander of a 
ship, tinder such circumstances as these, would have 
thought himself fortunate in retiring from the con- 
test with his colors flying. But Haraden was not 
an ordinary commander. He, like John Paul Jones, 


was one of those few seamen who are equal to any 
emergency, and who have the faculty of turning their 
misfortunes into the very instruments of success. 

Having repaired the damages as well as his lim- 
ited time and means would allow, he rammed home 
his last round of powder and shot, and boldly run- 
ning alongside his antagonist quietly informed the 
Englishmen that he would give them exactly five 
minutes in which to haul down their colors, and that 
if they did not do so at the expiration of that time 
he would send every man of them to the bottom of 
the sea. Then running up the red flag, " no quarter," 
he coolly took out a timepiece, and standing where 
he could be plainly seen by the enemy he called out 
every few seconds the various lapses of time that 
had expired. 

This singular summons had a peculiar effect on 
the minds of the Englishmen, which the shrewd 
American commander doubtless had calculated 
upon. The Englishman probably would have re- 
newed the battle, and would have fought to the last 
plank with his usual courage, had the Yankee gone 
about it in the customary blood-and-thunder way. 
But this sudden calm within short range (where the 
two crews were actually staring into one another's 
faces, and could almost shake hands across their bul- 
warks), this dreadful suspense before shotted guns, 
with a man holding a lighted match in one hand 
and a timepiece in the other, was too much for the 
nerves of the Englishmen, and before the expiration 
of the five minutes they hauled down their colors. 

Haraden, in his five or six years fighting against 
the English, evidently had come to the conclusion 
reached by Napoleon some years later namely, 
"that an Englishman never knows when he is 
whipped." In this case the American commander 
thought it best to give them five minutes in which 
to think it over. The wisdom of doing so is seen in 
the result, for there seems to have been no question 


about the packet's having been hopelessly beaten 
before tEe General Pickering hauled off for repairs, 
as, when the Americans went aboard to take pos- 
session, they found the decks of their prize covered 
with dead and wounded men and the blood was ooz- 
ing from the scuppers in a sluggish stream. 

Just two years after his extraordinary action 
with the Achilles, or on June 5, 1782, Haraden, then 
in command of the 14-gun ship Ccesar, fell in with 
an armed ship and brig. Of course there was 
a fight right off, and for two hours neither side 
could gain a decisive advantage, when, as Captain 
Haraden quaintly remarked, "both parties sepa- 
rated, sufficiently amused." 



IN the chapter on " Navy Officers in Privateers " 
mention was made of the capture of the armed brig 
Pomona, commanded by Captain Isaiah Robinson, of 
the navy, who had as his first officer Lieutenant 
Joshua Barney, also of the regular service. The ex- 
periences of the latter officer in British prisons were 
so extraordinary as to be deserving of special men- 
tion. On the capture of the Pomona, as related in 
the chapter referred to, Barney was placed in one 
of the prison ships at Wale Bogt. The arrival of Ad- 
miral Byron, who relieved Lord Howe as the com- 
mander in chief of the British naval forces on the 
American station, did much to improve the condi- 
tion of these prisoners. A few days after taking 
command, Byron visited the prison ships and or- 
dered several large, airy vessels to be fitted for the 
Americans, special accommodations and better food 
being reserved for the sick. Those officers who be- 
longed to the regular navy were taken aboard the 
war ships, and some of them enjoyed the freedom of 
the flagship Ardent. Admiral Byron made it a point 
to personally inspect the prison ships regularly 
every week, accompanied by his fleet captain and 
secretary, and to inquire minutely into the conduct 
of the prisoners and listen to any complaints they 
had to make. 

Among the American officers who had the good 
fortune to come under the ministrations of Admiral 



Byron was Lieutenant Barney. This officer was 
transferred to the Ardent, and one of his duties was 
to visit the prison ships and report on their con- 
dition to the admiral. Barney had a boat placed 
under his command, and was permitted to go ashore 
whenever he pleased, being required only to sleep 
aboard the Ardent. It was on one of his trips on 
shore that Barney found he was safer in the hands 
of his captors than among the townsfolk. He 
had been invited to breakfast ashore with Sir Wil- 
liam Tevisden, one of the admiral's aids, and had 
landed for that purpose, when he was roughly seized 
by a mob of men and boys. It seems that a large 
fire had broken out in New York and was raging 
at the time the lieutenant landed. Being dressed 
in the full American naval uniform, a crowd im- 
mediately set upon him, and, accusing him of having 
originated the fire, proceeded to throw him into the 
flames. The threat undoubtedly would have been 
carried out had it not been for the intervention of a 
British officer. Even then the mob declared that 
the lieutenant's explanation of having just landed 
for the purpose of breakfasting with Sir William 
Tevisden was a hoax, and it was not until, at the 
suggestion of the British officer, they had proceeded 
to the aid's house and heard the story from his lips 
that Lieutenant Barney was released. 

Unfortunately for the American prisoners Ad- 
miral Byron was soon superseded by Admiral Rod- 
ney, who, in December, 1780, ordered the 64-gun 
ship of the line Yarmouth, Captain Lutwidge the 
same that blew up the Randolph two years before * 
to transport seventy-one officers to England, Barney 
being among them. From the time these Americans 
stepped aboard the Yarmouth their captors gave it 
to be understood, by hints and innuendoes, that they 
were being taken to England to "be hanged as 

1 See Maclay's History of the United States Navy, vol. i, pp. 83-85. 


rebels " ; and, indeed, the treatment they received 
aboard the Yarmouth on the passage over led them 
to believe that the British officers intended to cheat 
the gallows of their prey by causing the prisoners 
to die before reaching port. On coming aboard the 
ship of the line these officers were stowed away in 
the lower hold, next to the keel, under five decks, 
and many feet below the water line. Here in a 
twelve-by-twenty-foot room with upcurving floor, 
and only three feet high, the seventy-one men were 
stowed for fifty-three days like so much merchandise, 
without light or good air, unable to stand upright, 
with no means and with no attempt made to remove 
the accumulating filth! Their food was of the poor- 
est quality, and was supplied in such insufficient 
quantities that whenever one of the prisoners died 
the survivors concealed the fact until the body began 
to putrify in order that the dead man's allowance 
might be added to theirs. The water served them 
for drink was so thick with repulsive matter that 
the prisoners were compelled to strain it between 
set teeth. 

From the time the Yarmouth left New York till 
she reached Plymouth, in a most tempestuous win- 
ter's passage, these men were kept in this loathsome 
dungeon. Eleven died in delirium, their wild ravings 
and piercing shrieks appalling their comrades, and 
giving them a foretaste of what they themselves 
might soon expect. Not even a surgeon was per- 
mitted to visit them. Arriving at Plymouth the pale, 
emaciated, festering men were ordered to come on 
deck. Not one obeyed, for they were unable to stand 
upright. Consequently they were hoisted up, the 
ceremony being grimly suggestive of the manner in 
which they had been treated like merchandise. And 
what were they to do, now that they had been placed 
on deck? The light of the sun, which they had 
scarcely seen for fifty-three days, fell upon their 
weak, dilated pupils with blinding force, their limbs 


unable to uphold them, their frames wasted by dis- 
ease and want. Seeking for support they fell in a 
helpless mass, one upon the other, waiting and al- 
most hoping for the blow that was to fall upon them 
next. Captain Silas Talbot was one of these pris- 
oners. 1 

To send them ashore in this condition was " im- 
practicable," so the British officers said, and we 
readily discover that this "impracticable" served 
the further purpose of diverting the just indigna- 
tion of the landsf oik, which surely would be aroused 
if they saw such brutality practiced under St. 
George's cross. Waiting, then, until the captives 
could at least endure the light of day, and could 
walk without leaning on one another or clutching at 
every object for support, the officers had them 
moved to Old Mill Prison. Nor must it be forgotten 
that these weak captives were thus moved with a 
" strong military guard " certainly not to prevent 
their escape; probably to guard against the curious 
gaze of the people. First they were taken before 
a certain tribunal whether military or civic the 
prisoners did not know where a number of ques- 
tions were put to them, the words ." revolt," "al- 
legiance," " rebels," predominating, after which they 
were taken to the prison. 

Mill Prison was a massive stone building in the 
center of an extensive court. The court was sur- 
rounded by a high wall, and twenty feet beyond that 
was another wall, parallel to the first, completely 
surrounding it. The only apertures in these walls 
were a gate in each, the inner one being formed with 
massive iron bars eight feet high. The outer gate 
during the day usually was left open so as to allow 
free communication between the keepers and their 
dwellings which were placed just outside the outer 
wall. Between eight o'clock in the morning and 

1 See page 111. 


sunset the prisoners were allowed the privilege of 
the inner court, but at night they were securely 
locked in the prison house. Many sentinels were 
stationed among the prisoners in the inner court 
and in the prison itself, besides the regular patrols 
on the two encircling walls and at the gates. 

To the unfortunate Americans who had just ar- 
rived from the Yarmouth this place seemed a para- 
dise, for at Mill Prison they could at least get light, 
air, and exercise. Yet even here there were many 
causes for complaint, for the American prisoners 
seem to have been picked out for severe treatment. 
It was shown that they were " treated with less hu- 
manity than the French and Spaniards, . . . they had 
not a sufficient allowance of bread, and were very 
scantily furnished with clothing." 1 In 1781 the 
Duke of Eichmond presented a memorial to the 
House of Peers. " Several motions were grounded 
on these petitions, but those proposed by the lords 
and gentlemen in the Opposition were determined 
in the negative; and others, to exculpate the Gov- 
ernment in this business, were resolved in the 
affirmative. It appeared upon inquiry that the 
American prisoners were allowed half a pound of 
bread less per day than the French and Spanish 
prisoners. But the petition of the Americans pro- 
duced no alterations in their favor, and the con- 
duct of the administration was equally impolitic and 
illiberal." 2 

Many attempts to escape were made by the 
Americans during the period of their confinement in 
Mill Prison, and some of them were successful. On 
one occasion a number of them volunteered to at- 
tempt escape through the common sewer that emp- 
tied into the river. Several days and nights were 
spent in sawing the iron bars that guarded the en- 
trance to the sewer, and when an opening was made 

1 British Annual Register lor 1781, p. 153. Ibid. 


it was agreed that a few of the prisoners should 
endeavor to escape through it, and if they did not 
return in a given time it was to be understood that 
they had been successful and that others might fol- 
low. The pioneers in this attempt were lowered into 
the foul hole, and had waded several hundred feet in 
the dark passage, when they found a double iron 
grating, which they in vain endeavored to remove. 
They returned to their companions more dead than 
alive, and that method of escape was abandoned. 

Barney soon came to be suspected as a bold and 
dangerous prisoner, and at one time was placed in 
heavy double irons and confined thirty days in a dark 
dungeon for a " suspected " attempt to escape. This 
solitary confinement determined him to effect his es- 
cape at the earliest moment possible. Realizing that 
he was watched more than any of the other prison- 
ers, Barney resorted to a ruse to deceive his keepers. 

When the common liberty of the yard was al- 
lowed the prisoners, it was their custom to while 
away their time with athletic games. Indulging in 
a game of leapfrog with his companions one day 
Barney pretended to have sprained his ankle, and 
for some time after that walked about with crutches. 
This seems to have thrown the jailers entirely off 
their guard, and, indeed, so well was the deception 
kept up that only a few of Barney's most intimate 
companions knew of the trick. 

Among the soldiers who had been detailed to 
guard Mill Prison at this time was a man who had 
served in the British army in the United States. It 
seems that he had received some kindness from the 
Americans, and he now delighted in showing civility 
to the prisoners from that country. Barney soon 
discovered this, and managed to hold several con- 
versations with the soldier, which resulted in a warm 
friendship springing up between them. On May 18, 
1781, it was this soldier's turn to mount guard be- 
tween the two gates of the inner and outer walls 


of the prison, already described, his hours being 
from noon till two o'clock. Some kind of an under- 
standing had been reached between them, and on 
the day mentioned Barney, hobbling about on his 
crutches, gradually drew near the gate, and, ob- 
serving that no one was near, he whispered inter- 
rogatively through the bars, " To-day? " to which 
the soldier replied, in a low tone, " Dinner." From 
this answer Barney knew that one o'clock was 
meant, for at that hour all the jailers took dinner, 
leaving only the sentinels on guard. 

Hastening to his cell Barney put on the undress 
uniform of a British officer, which he had secured 
from the friendly sentinel, and threw over it his 
greatcoat. This coat he had been wearing about 
the prison since the "spraining" of his ankle, so 
that he would not " catch cold." As a matter of fact, 
Barney had worn the coat so as to accustom the 
jailers at seeing him in it, for it reached quite down 
to his heels and entirely concealed any dress or 
uniform that he might choose to wear. Having made 
this change, Barney stepped out of his cell, though 
still using his crutches, and sought the confidential 
friends who were to assist him in his escape. At 
a given signal these friends repaired to different 
parts of the yard and engaged the various sentinels 
in conversation so that they would not see what was 
going on at the gates. 

Observing that everything was ready, Barney 
cast aside his crutches, entered the court, and boldly 
walked toward the gate. Here he exchanged a 
wink with the English sentinel, from which he knew 
that all was right. Beside the gate stood a tall, mus- 
cular man, a prisoner, an accomplice of Barney's. 
With the agility of a cat, Barney sprang upon this 
man's shoulders and then over the wall. It took 
him but an instant to whip off his greatcoat and 
throw it over his arm, and thrusting four guineas 
into the hand of the friendly sentinel he started 

Barney's escape from Mitt Prison. 


toward the outer gate, which, as usual, was standing 
open. The back of the guardian of the outer gate was 
turned, so that Barney passed through unchallenged. 
Walking leisurely down the road he, in a few min- 
utes, arrived at the house of a well-known friend to 
the American cause. 

The sudden appearance of a man dressed in the 
uniform of a British officer at the door of this 
house startled the inmates, which was not lessened 
when Barney explained who he was, for to harbor 
an escaped prisoner was high treason, especially 
when the American sentiments of that family were 
so well known to the officials. Notwithstanding this, 
the good people consented to hide the prisoner for 
the day. Contrary to their fears, no inquiry was 
made for Barney that day, for his absence had not yet 
been discovered. With a view of having his escape 
unknown to the prison officials as long as possible, 
Barney had arranged with a slender youth (who was 
able to creep through the window bars at pleas- 
ure) to drawl through the aperture so as to an- 
swer to Barney's name in his cell every day at 
roll call. In the evening Barney was taken to the 
house of his host's father, a venerable clergyman 
of Plymouth, where it was customary for Ameri- 
cans, whether free or in bondage, to resort. Here 
he found two friends from his native State, New 
Jersey, Colonel William Eichardson and Dr. Hind- 
man, who, with their servant, had been taken as 
passengers in a merchantman, and were awaiting 
an opportunity to return to America. 

Arrangements were soon made to purchase a fish- 
ing smack, in which they were to make their way to 
France, where they had a much better chance to 
secure passage to the United States. A suitable 
craft was secured, and the two gentlemen, with their 
servant, slept in it that night. Among the effects 
of the servant Barney found a suit of rough clothes, 
which he put on over his uniform, as being bet- 


ter adapted for carrying out the rdle of fisher- 
man he was about to assume. Then with an old 
overcoat tied around the waist, a tarpaulin hat, 
and a " knowing tie," made with a . handkerchief 
around his neck, he looked fairly like a fisherman, 
and at daybreak he joined his countrymen in the 

No time was lost in getting under way, for at 
any moment Barney's escape might be discovered, 
and as the alarm would immediately be given to Ad- 
miral Digby's fleet, which was anchored in the 
mouth of the river, the closest inspection would 
be made of every craft passing out. As not one of 
Barney's companions knew how to handle a rope, 
all the work of navigating the craft devolved upon 
him, but as he was a thorough seaman he soon had 
the smack standing down the river. With a fine 
breeze and ebbing tide the adventurers were soon 
in the midst of the formidable fleet of war vessels, 
the frowning batteries of which yawned at them in 
sullen silence, while the sentinels paced to and fro, 
casting unsuspicious glances at the innocent-look- 
ing craft. With the fleet safely behind him, Barney 
boldly stood out to sea and made for the French 
coast. His companions were more helpless now 
even than before, as they were prostrated by sea- 
sickness, so that the entire safety of the party was in 
the hands of the lieutenant. 

Just as the shores of England began to fade, 
and the adventurers were congratulating them- 
selves on their escape, a sail loomed up on the hori- 
zon, and was soon made out to be a swift-sailing 
vessel evidently in pursuit of the smack. In a few 
minutes she had come alongside, and, after ordering 
the craft to heave to, sent a boat aboard with an 
officer. The sail proved to be a privateer, out from 
Guernsey, and to her officer's demand of what was 
on board the smack, and where she was bound, Lieu- 
tenant Barney replied: 


" I have nothing on board, and am bound to the 
coast of France." 

" Your business there? " asked the officer. 

" I can not disclose to you my business; " and 
untying the rope that bound his greatcoat around 
him Barney showed his British uniform. The sight 
of the uniform had its desired effect. The priva- 
teersman instantly changed his commanding tone 
to one of respect and touched his hat. Following 
up his advantage Barney said, in a severe tone: 

"Sir, I must not be detained; my business is 
urgent, and you must suffer me to proceed or you 
will, perhaps, find cause to regret it." To this the 
boarding officer politely replied that he would im- 
mediately go aboard and report to his commander. 
This he did, but in a few minutes the captain of the 
privateer himself came aboard, and, though very 
polite, he desired to know what business could carry 
a British officer to the enemy's coast: 

" I should be very sorry to stop you, sir," he said, 
"if you are on public business; and if this be the 
fact it must surely be in your power to give me 
some proof of it without disclosing the secrets of 
Government, which I have no desire to know." 

Barney replied that to show him such proofs 
would be to hazard the success of his mission, which 
depended entirely on its being kept absolutely 
secret from all save those intrusted in its execution. 

" Then, sir," replied the privateersman, " I shall 
be under the necessity of carrying you to England." 

" Do as you please," said Barney calmly, " but, 
remember, it is at your peril. All I have to say fur- 
ther, sir, is that if you persist in interrupting my 
voyage I must demand of you to carry me directly 
on board Admiral Digby's flagship, at Plymouth." 

The American officer well knew that this was 
an unpleasant request for the privateersman, for if 
he ventured in the fleet he might expect to be re- 
lieved of some of his crew by the admiral's press 


gangs, who were constantly on the lookout for 
men. Barney hoped this would induce the priva- 
teersman to let him go, and in fact the Englishman 
did hesitate for a few minutes. Barney followed up 
the stroke by commenting on the fine, manly ap- 
pearance of the privateer's crew. But all to no pur- 
pose, the Englishman deciding to take them to Plym- 

All that night the two vessels were beating their 
way back to the English coast, and on the following 
morning entered a small port about six miles from 
Plymouth. Here the English commander, leaving 
Barney aboard the privateer, went ashore to make 
his report to Admiral Digby, and under pretense of 
keeping out of the way of press gangs nearly all the 
crew went ashore also. The few that remained 
aboard treated Barney with the respect due to his 
assumed character and he was allowed every lib- 
erty save that of going ashore. .Seizing a favorable 
opportunity, when those aboard were at dinner, 
Barney slid down a rope over the stern and got into 
a boat. In doing this he badly injured his leg, but 
unmindful of the pain he rapidly sculled ashore un- 
seen by any of the privateersmen. 

As he approached the beach many of the idlers 
came to the landing to watch him, but made no at- 
tempt to interfere. Boldly jumping ashore he called 
for aid to haul his boat up. Several responded, when 
Barney was startled by a loud voice calling out: 

" Hollo there! Where did you catch her? What 
has she got aboard? " 

Looking around Barney saw that he was ad- 
dressed by the customhouse officer. He soon satis- 
fied that important person that he had nothing of 
a contraband nature, and complaining of the hurt 
on his leg the blood now plainly oozing out from 
his stocking he made that an excuse for hurrying 
away to get " something onto it." Before leaving, 
however, he dispelled whatever suspicions might 


have been lingering in the customhouse officer's mind 
by asking: 

"Pray, sir, can you tell me where our people 

" I think, sir, you'll find them all at the Eed Lion, 
the very last house in the village." 

" Thank you, sir. I wish you a very good morn- 
ing; " and with that the American walked off in the 
direction indicated. 

It was the least of Barney's desires to meet any 
of " our people," but he found that there was only 
one street in the village, so that he was compelled 
to pass the Eed Lion. He passed the tavern un- 
perceived, as he thought, but just as he had turned 
the corner he heard a gruff voice calling after him: 

"Hollo, lieutenant! I'm glad you're come 
ashore. We was jist some on us to off arter you." 

" And what for, pray? " asked Barney with con- 
siderable uneasiness. 

" Why, may be as how some on us might ship if 
we knowed a thing or two." 

Barney saw at once that his assumed disguise 
had gained full credence among the sailors in the 
privateers, and that some of them believed, through 
his interest, they could get better berths in Admiral 
Digby's fleet. Engaging the man in conversation, 
and at the same time walking rapidly away from 
the Eed Lion so as to get away from the rest of 
the men, Barney gave encouragement to the sea- 
man's idea of shipping in the fleet, when the latter 
suddenly asked: 

" Where are you going? " 

" To Plymouth. Come, you might as well go along 
with me." 

The tar hesitated a moment, seemed to think 
better of his plan of entering a navy noted for its 
cruelty to seamen, and finally said he'd go back to 
his old shipmates. 

As soon as the tar was out of sight, Barney 


quickened Ms pace into a run lest he be overtaken 
by others of the crew. Bealizing, also, that as soon 
as the captain of the privateer had explained his 
capture to Admiral Digby his escape from the 
prison would in all probability be discovered, and 
a guard be sent to secure him, he deemed it advis- 
able to jump over a hedge and seclude himself in a 
private garden. This precaution was doubly neces- 
sary, as the highway on which he was traveling was 
the direct route from Plymouth, and the one a guard 
would take in coming for him. 

On leaping over the hedge he found himself in 
the superb private grounds of Lord Edgecombe. 
Wandering about in search of the servants' house, 
he was discovered by the. gardener, who was much 
incensed by the intrusion. Barney pacified him by 
explaining that he had injured his leg and was seek- 
ing the shortest way to Plymouth. Giving the gar- 
dener a tip, Barney was conducted to a private gate 
opening on the river, and hailing a butcher who 
was going by in a small wherry with two sheep to 
market our adventurer got aboard. By this means 
Barney avoided the necessity of crossing the river 
by the public ferry, and also that of passing by Mill 
Prison and of a chance of meeting the guard. 

Immediately on receiving the report of the priva- 
teer's commander, Admiral Digby caused an inquiry 
to be made in all the prisons and places of confine- 
ment in or near Plymouth, and at the time Barney 
was sliding down the rope over the privateer's stern 
to get into a boat his escape from Mill Prison was 
discovered; and at the moment he passed through 
Lord Edgecombe's private gate to the riverside the 
tramp of the soldiers all of whom were familiar 
with Barney was heard passing the very hedge he 
had just vaulted over on their way to take him back 
to prison. 

That night Barney gained the house of the ven- 
erable clergyman that he had left only the morn- 


ing before. The same evening Colonel Kichardson 
and Dr. Hindman arrived at this house also, having 
been released from the privateer after the guard 
from Mill Prison had inspected them. While these 
fugitives were seated at supper laughing and jok- 
ing over their hapless adventures, the bell of the 
town-crier was heard under the windows, and the 
reward of five guineas for the apprehension of 
Joshua Barney, a rebel deserter from Mill Prison, 
was proclaimed. For a moment it was thought that 
the proclamation was addressed to this particular 
house, and that a military guard would follow to 
search the premises; but in a few minutes the bell 
and voice began to die away in the distance, and 
finally could be heard no more. 

Three days longer the fugitive remained in his 
place of concealment, by which time a fashionable 
suit of clothes was procured for him and a post 
chaise was engaged to take him to Exeter. At mid- 
night Barney, accompanied by one of the clergy- 
man's sons, repaired to the secluded spot where the 
vehicle was in waiting, and bidding farewell to his 
friends stepped in and was rapidly driven away. 
Beaching the gate of the town they were brought 
to by a stern " Halt! " from the sentry. The driver 
obeyed, and in a moment an officer thrust a lantern 
into the carriage and began reading aloud the exact 
description of the person and dress Barney had 
worn in his escape from the prison. Of course the 
dress had been changed, and Barney succeeded so 
well in distorting his features that the facial de- 
scription did not fit, so with an apology the officer 
allowed the post chaise to proceed. At Exeter our 
adventurer took the stage to Bristol, and from there 
made his way to London, France, and Holland. 

In Holland Barney secured passage in the armed 
ship South Carolina, Captain Gillon. We get an in- 
teresting side light on Barney's ability as a seaman 
from the diary of John Trumbull, the famous 


painter. " The want of funds or credit/' says Trum- 
bull, "and the dread of those who had advanced 
money on her [the South Carolina's] outfit occa- 
sioned her officers after she had been permitted to 
drop down to the Texel to run her out of the Roads, 
and to anchor outside, beyond the jurisdiction of 
the port, at a distance of more than a league from 
land. Here several of us passengers went on board, 
and on the 12th of August [1781], soon after sun- 
rise, the wind began to blow from the northwest, 
directly on shore, with every appearance of a heavy 
gale. The proper thing to have done was to have 
run back into the Texel Roads, but that we dared 
not do lest the ship should be seized. We dared not 
run for the English Channel lest we should fall in 
with British cruisers of superior force. The gale 
soon increased to such a degree that it would have 
been madness to remain at anchor on such a lee 
shore. The only thing which could be done, there- 
fore, was to lay the ship's head to the northeast and 
carry sail. A fog soon came on, so thick that we 
could hardly see from stem to stern; the gale in- 
creased to a very hurricane, and soon brought us to 
close-reefed topsails; the coast of Holland was 
under our lee, and we knew that we were running 
upon the very edge of the sands, which extended so 
far from the shore that if the ship should touch 
she must go to pieces before we could even see the 
land and all hands must perish. We passed the 
morning in the deepest anxiety; in the afternoon 
we discovered that we had started several of the 
bolts of the weather main chain plates. This forced 
us to take in our close-reefed topsails, as the masts 
would no longer bear the strain of any sail aloft, and 
we were obliged to rely upon a reefed foresail. By 
this time we knew that we must be not far from 
Heligoland, at the mouth of the Elbe, where the 
coast begins to trend northward, which increased 
the danger. At ten o'clock at night a squall struck 


us, heavier than the gale, and threw our only sail 
aback; the ship became unmanageable, the officers 
lost their self-possession, and the crew all confi- 
dence in them, while for a few minutes all was con- 
fusion and dismay. Happily for us, Commodore 
Barney was among the passengers he had just 
escaped from Mill Prison, in England. Hearing the 
increased tumult aloft, and feeling the ungoverned 
motion of the ship, he flew upon deck, saw the dan- 
ger, assumed command, the men obeyed, and he 
soon had her again under control. It was found 
that with the squall the wind had shifted several 
points, so that on the other tack we could lay a safe 
course to the westward, and thus relieve our main- 
mast. That our danger was imminent no one will 
doubt when informed that on the following morn- 
ing the shore of the Texel Island was covered with 
the wreck of ships which were afterward ascer- 
tained to have been Swedish; among them was a 
ship of seventy-four guns, convoying twelve mer- 
chantmen all were wrecked and every soul on 
board' perished. The figurehead of the ship of war, 
a yellow lion, the same as ours, was found upon the 
shore, and gave sad cause to our friends for believ- 
ing, for some tiine, that the South Carolina had per- 

When the gale subsided the South Carolina made 
the Orkneys, and when off Faroe encountered an- 
other terrific gale, which, together with a deficiency 
of provisions, induced Gillon to run into OoruSa, 
Spain. "There," continues Trumbull, "we found 
the Cicero [Captain Hill], a fine letter-of -marque 
ship of twenty guns and one hundred and twenty 
men, belonging to the house of Cabot, in Beverly, 
Massachusetts. [On her outward passage this pri- 
vateer had made several valuable prizes, which were 
disposed of in Spain.] She was to sail immediately 
for Bilboa, there to take a cargo on board which 
was lying ready for her, and to sail to America. Sev- 


eral of us among whom were Major Jackson, who 
had been secretary to Colonel John Laurens in his 
late mission to France, Captain Barney, Mr. Brom- 
fleld, and Charles Adams tired of the management 
of the South Carolina, endeavored to get a passage to 
Bilboa on board of this ship, and were permitted 
to go on board their [the Cicero's] prize, a fine Brit- 
ish Lisbon packet. The usnal time required to run 
from Coruna to Bilboa was two to three days. We 
were again unfortunate; the wind being east, dead 
ahead, we were twenty-one days in making the pas- 
sage. ... At the end of eighteen days we fell in 
with a little fleet of Spanish coasters and fishermen, 
running to the westward before the wind, who told 
us that when off the bar of Bilboa they had seen 
a ship and two brigs, which they believed to be Brit- 
ish cruisers, and cautioned us to keep a good look- 
out. Captain Hill immediately hailed his prize, a 
ship of sixteen guns, and a fine brig of sixteen guns, 
which was also in company, and directed them to 
keep close to him and prepare to meet an enemy. 
At sunset we saw what appeared to be the force 
described, and about midnight found we were within 
hail. The Cicero ran close alongside of the ship and 
hailed her in English no answer; in French no 
answer. The men who were at their guns, impa- 
tient of delay, did not wait for orders, but poured 
in her a broadside; the hostile squadron as we sup- 
posed them separated and made all sail in differ- 
ent directions, when a boat from the large ship came 
alongside with her captain, a Spaniard, who in- 
formed us that they were Spanish vessels from St. 
Sebastian, bound for the West Indies; that his ship 
was very much cut in her rigging, but happily no 
lives lost. He had mistaken us for British vessels 
and was delighted to find his mistake. We apolo- 
gized for ours, offered assistance, etc., and we parted 
most amicably. Soon after we entered the river of 
Bilboa and ran up to Porto Galette. The disabled, 


[Spanish] ship, with her comrades, put into Coruna, 
where it was found that one of our 9-pound shot had 
wounded the mainmast of our antagonist so severe- 
ly that it was necessary to take it the mast out 
and put in a new one. This was not the work of a 
day, and her consorts were detained until their flag- 
ship was ready. Meantime we had almost com- 
pleted taking in our cargo at Bilboa, when a mes- 
senger from Madrid arrived with orders to unhang 
the rudders of all American ships in the port until 
the bill for repairs of the wounded ship, demurrage 
of her consorts, etc., were paid." 

When the Cicero finally got away she made 
directly for America, and, after narrowly escaping 
shipwreck on Cape Ann, gained the port of Beverly, 
"where we found," continues Trumbull, "eleven 
other ships, all larger and finer than the Cicero all 
belonging to the same owners, the brothers Cabot 
laid up for the winter. Yet such are the vicissitudes 
of war and the elements that before the close of 
the year they were all lost by capture or wreck, and 
the house of Cabot had not a single ship afloat upon 
the ocean." At Beverly Lieutenant Barney received 
an offer from the Messrs. Cabot to command a fine 
privateer ship of twenty guns, but he declined. At 
Boston he met several of his fellow-prisoners who 
also had effected their escape from Mill Prison. 
After this Barney proceeded to Philadelphia and as- 
sumed command of the Hyder Ally, in which he 
fought one of the most remarkable battles of the 
war. 1 

Two years after the miraculous escape of Lieu- 
tenant Barney from Mill Prison he again visited 
Plymouth, then as captain of the United States 
frigate General Washington. He took occasion to 
give a dinner aboard his ship, at which his friends 
who aided in his escape, besides all the British oflS- 

1 See chapter xiv, Career of the General Washington. 


cers in the town and on the station, attended. Bar- 
ney learned that the manner of his escape still re- 
mained a mystery to the prison officials, and no sus- 
picion had attached to those who aided him. He 
also visited the gardener who unconsciously had 
been instrumental in saving the fugitive from re- 
capture, and gave him a purse of gold. 



THAT all classes of society in the North Ameri- 
can colonies were influenced by the " craze for priva- 
teering " has been amply demonstrated in the fore- 
going pages. In the chapter on A Boy Privateers- 
man we followed the adventures of a farmer's lad, 
in the career of Silas Talbot we have seen how an 
army officer and a company of soldiers could con- 
duct themselves aboard a private armed craft, and 
in the extracts bearing on Joshua Davis we have 
discovered creditable fighting capacities in a bar- 
ber's apprentice. In the private journal of Dr. Solo- 
mon Drowne we have perhaps one of the most satis- 
factory accounts of a privateering cruise during the 
Revolution, and, being written by a man of educa- 
tion, having a keen eye to matters of human interest, 
the record is given verbatim. Dr. Drowne was born 
in Providence, Rhode Island, March 11, 1753, was 
graduated from Brown University in 1773, and com- 
pleted his medical studies in the University of Penn- 
sylvania. He served in the Continental army as sur- 
geon throughout the war excepting the seventeen 
days he imprudently ventured on the high seas and 
afterward became professor of botany in Brown Uni- 

This journal has been preserved through the 
efforts of two youthful " amateurs in the black art," 
Henry Russell Drowne and Charles L. Moreau, who 
printed the manuscript on private presses in 1872. 



In a letter to the Hon. John Russell Bartlett, of 
Providence, Rhode Island, young Browne says: " As 
you are interested in the black art, I beg your ac- 
ceptance of a copy of Dr. Drowne's journal, in 1780, 
on the Hope, from the undersigned, his great grand- 
son. It was printed by two boys, Master Moreau and 
myself, both novices in the art." The original manu- 
script of Dr. Drowne's journal was prepared for 
these young Franklins by Henry Thayer Drowne, 
brother of Dr. Solomon Drowne, together with a few 
explanatory notes; and the result is one of the most 
complete records of a privateering cruise during the 
war for independence. 

" An emergency at home," says Mr. H. T. Drowne, 
"caused him [Dr. Solomon Drowne] to embark as 
surgeon in the Hope." This privateer was a sloop, 
mounting seven guns, with a complement of twenty 
men, under the command of Captain J. Munroe, and 
was fitted out for a cruise at Providence, Rhode 
Island, in the fall of 1780. " Tuesday, October 3d," 
writes Dr. Drowne in his journal, " [we] sailed from 
Providence on board the sloop Hope. Wind at north- 
east, drizzly, dirty weather. Outsailed Mr. John 
Brown [one of the leading shipowners in Rhode 
Island] in his famous boat. Put about for Captain 

Munroe and take Mr. Brown and Captain S 

Smith on board, who dine with us. Some time after 
noon Captain Munroe comes on board and a few 
glasses of good wishes, founded on the Hope, having 
circled, Colonel Nightingale, etc., depart and we pro- 
ceed on our course. Toward evening come to anchor 
between Dutch Island and Conanicut [opposite New- 
port] to get in readiness for the sea. [I] officiate as 
clerk, copying articles, etc. 

"October 4th. This morning sail from Dutch 
Island harbor. At 7 A. M. pass the lighthouse walls 
on Beaver Tail. Wind northeast, hazy weather. A 
heavy sea from the southward. I begin to be exces- 
sively seasick, but do not take my station upon the 

1780. A HEAVY GALE. 


lee quarter till that side is pretty well manned. 
[Evidently a large portion of the Hope's crew were 
rendered helpless by this evil of the sea, and we can 
not but admire the doughty doctor in holding out 
so long as he did. E. S. M.] This is a sickness that 
is indeed enough to depress the spirits even of the 

"October 5th. Fresh breezes and cloudy. Treble 
reef mainsail. Excessive sickness. Hove to. A 
heavy sea, with squalls of rain. 

" October 6th. [I] keep the cabin. Strong gales 
and squally; still lying by. Saw a ship and made 
sail from her, then brought to again. 

" October 7th. Get the topmast down; balance 
the mainsail and lie to. Put our guns in the hold, etc. 
[In the] afternoon the gale becomes violent. Only 
one long-practiced seaman on board who says he 
ever knew it more tempestuous. Nail down our 
hatches and secure everything in the best manner 
possible. [We] have a hole cut through the store- 
room to open a communication fore and aft below 
the deck. The storm increases. Ship a sea, which 
carries away some of our crane irons [davits]. Get 
our axes into the cabin, ready to cut away the mast 
should there be occasion. A becoming fortitude in 
general predominates on board, though horror stalks 
around. They who go down to the sea in ships do 
indeed see the wonders of the Lord in the deep. The 
description of a tempest, translated by Boileau from 
Longinus, occurs to my mind with peculiar energy: 

* Comme Ton voit les flots, souleves par TOrage, 
Fondre sur un Yaisseau qui s'oppose &. leur Bage, 
Le vent avec Fureur dans les Voiles fremit ; 
La Mer blanchit d J 6cume, et 1'air au loin gemit 
Le Matelot trouble, que son Art abondonne, 
Croit voir dans chaque Flot qui Tenvironne.' 

" I like this description, because there are no tri- 
fling incidents thrown in. 'Tis short and energetic 


grand and forcive, like the storm itself. One now 
can scarce refrain from envying the husbandman 
who, folded on his bed of placid quiet, hears the wild 
whistle round his steady mansion, whilst our ears 
are assailed by its rude howling through the cord- 
age, our vessel tossed upon the foaming surges. 
Thrice happy rural life, and too happy country- 
men, did they but know their happiness! [The fore- 
going outburst from Dr. Browne leads us to believe 
that he must have been very ill indeed at that time. 
E. S. M.] The gale moderates, the wind shifts, 
and the sea begins to be appeased. God of Nature! 
Who that sees thy greatness on the wide, extended 
ocean but must be filled with adoration, and feel a 
submission of heart to thy eternal orders. 

"October 8th. Moderate weather after the 
storm. Get our clothes, etc., out to dry. Cloudy still. 
Our mariners wonder we came off so well as we did; 
and indeed we escaped to admiration, owing, in some 
measure, to the goodness of our vessel and the tak- 
ing every precaution previous to the severity of the 
gale. Toward evening a sail is seen from the mast- 
head; [we] set sail and stand for her. 

" October 9th. Post nuUla, Phcelus! A beautiful 
morning. How cheering are the beams of the sun! 
I view him almost with the sentiments of a Persian. 
Those surly billows that erewhile buffeted us to and 
fro, and would suffer us no peace, are composed as 
the infant that has bawled itself to rest. A large 
number of whale of the spermaceti kind [are] play- 
ing round us this morning, and let them sport. The 
Father of the universe has given them the expanded 
ocean for the wide scene of their happiness. Noth- 
ing of said sail to be seen. Have an observation for 
the first time. Latitude 38 ST. My variation chart 
of no use for want of an azimuth compass. [In] 
afternoon discover a ship standing to the eastward. 

" October 10th. No remarkable occurrence. 
Latitude 54'. 

1780. A 20,000 PRIZE. 171 

" October llth. Whilst at dinner a sail is cried. 
Immediately give chase and discover another. One a 
sloop, which bears down upon us, the other a brig. 
Make every preparation for an engagement, but on 
approaching and hailing the sloop she proves to be 
the Randolph, Captain Posdick, from New London, 
mounting eighteen 4-pounders. The brig, with only 
two guns, her prize from England, taken at eight 
o'clock this morning. Captain Posdick says her 
cargo amounted to twenty thousand pounds ster- 

The learned doctor now apparently begins to 
think better (or worse) of his privateering, for he 
continues : " What good and ill fortune were conse- 
quent on that capture! Hard for those poor fel- 
lows, their tedious voyage being just accomplished, 
thus to have their brightening prospect clouded in 
a moment. If virtue is the doing good to others, pri- 
vateering can not be justified upon the principles 
of virtue, although I know it is not repugnant to 
the 'laws of nations,' but rather deemed policy 
among warring powers thus to distress each other 
regardless of the suffering individual. But however 
agreeable to and supportable by the rights of war, 
yet when individuals. come to thus despoil individ- 
uals of their property 'tis hard; the cruelty then ap- 
pears, however political." [Had Dr. Drowne been a 
delegate to the Peace Conference at The Hague in 
1899 he could not have summed up the arguments 
of the American commissioners in favor of protec- 
tion of private property on the high seas better than 
by using these words. E. S. M.] 

" October 12th. Early this morning two sail in 
sight, a ship and a brig. Chase them chief of the 
day to no purpose. We conclude they sail well and 
may be bound to Philadelphia. Latitude 39 6'. 
Soundings nineteen fathoms. Lost sight of the Ran- 
dolph by the chase. 

"October 13th. A foggy morning and Scotch 


mist. Clears away pleasant. Latitude 39 31'. This 
afternoon a sloop is discovered under the lee bow 
standing before the wind. All hands [are] upon 
deck preparing for the chase. [There is] but little 
wind, so the oars are to be plied. I must go and see 
how we come on. Night obliges us to give over the 

" October 14th. A sail [is] seen from the mast- 
head; proves a ship. We chase. Catch a herring 
hog, which makes us a fine breakfast and dinner for 
the whole crew. Another sail heaves in sight. Upon 
a nearer approach the ship appears to be of the line 
[the heaviest class of war ships]. Several in sight. 
Toward evening signal guns heard. We take them 
to be men-of-war standing in, northwest by west. 
Longitude, by reckoning, 73 30"; latitude 39 34'; 
twenty-six fathoms. A pleasant moonlight evening. 
Spend it in walking the quarter-deck. 

" October 15th. A pleasant day. See a sail to 
windward/ As she rather approaches us we lie a- 
hull for her. I think it is more agreeable waiting 
for them than rowing after them. Get a fishing line 
under way. Catch a hake and a few dogfish. It 
being Sunday, try the efficacy of a clean shirt, in 
order to be something like folks ashore. Give chase, 
as the vessel comes down rather slow. On approach- 
ing discover her to be a snow. 1 She hauls her wind 
and stands from us. Sails very heavy, and Captain 
Munroe is sanguine in the belief we shall make a 
prize of her. Get everything in readiness to board 

"There seems something awful in the prepara- 
tion for an attack and the immediate prospect of an 
action. She hauls up her courses and hoists English 
colors. I take my station in the cabin, where [I] re- 
main not long before I hear the huzza on deck in 

1 A vessel equipped with two masts, resembling the main and fore 
masts of a ship, and a third, small mast, just abaft the mainmast, 
carrying a trysail 


consequence of her striking. Send our boat for the 
captain and his papers. She sailed from Kingston, 
Jamaica, upwards of forty days since, in a fleet, and 
was bound to New York, Captain William Small, 
commander. She has ten men on board and four ex- 
cellent 4-pounders. Her cargo consists of one hun- 
dred and forty-nine puncheons, twenty-three hogs- 
heads, three quarter casks and nine barrels of rum, 
and twenty hogsheads of muscovado sugar. [We] 
send two prize masters and ten men on board, get 
the prisoners on board our vessel and taking the 
prize in tow. Stand towards Egg Harbor. We hard- 
ly know what to do with the prize. The wind shift- 
ing a little we stand to the eastward. 

" October 16. Keep on eastern course to try to 
get her into our harbor, if possible. Now we are 
terribly apprehensive of seeing a sail. About sunset 
a sail is seen from the masthead which excites no 
small anxiety. Cast off the snow's hawser, etc. 
However, night coming on, and seeing no more of 
the sail, pursue our course. Sound forty-two fath- 
oms of water. 

"October 17th. Strong gales at north north- 
west and very cold. Latitude 40 30'. Afternoon, 
moderates somewhat. [We] take the old snow in 
tow again. We expect to bring up somewhere in the 
neighborhood of Martha's Vineyard. A squall with 
hail and snow comes up which splits the snow's 
jib to pieces. A little bird came on board, rendered 
quite tame by its long, hazardous flight. Amuse 
myself with looking over a quarter waggoner taken 
out of the snow. Take a drink of grog, made of 
snow water. Very heavy squalls indeed this night, 
with a rough, bad sea. Obliged to cast off the dull 
snow and let her go her pace. About forty-two 
fathoms water. Sleep little. 

" October 18th. Boisterous weather still, a tum- 
bling sea going. Feel qualmish. Latitude 40 40'. 
The wind so contrary that we make but slow ad- 


vances towards our desired haven. Just as I was 
pleasing myself with the idea of a speedy conclusion 
to this disagreeable cruise a sail is cried, which per- 
haps will protract it, if not show us [New] York in 
our way home. The sail appears to be a brig and 
not standing for us, as we at first apprehended. We 
chase till night prevents- Lose sight of the snow. 
Fire signal guns, show flash fires and a lantern, but 
see no answer. 

" October 19th. The snow is in sight again this 
morning. Eun alongside and take her in tow again. 
They say they answered our signals, though unseen 
by us. A pretty bird caught on board, the Carolina 
redbird. More moderate weather. Latitude 40 30". 
At this rate, the West Indies will bring us up sooner 
than Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Forty-nine 
fathoms. Have our pistols hung up in the cabin, 
to be in readiness for the prisoners should they take 
in it into their heads to rise upon the watch in the 

"October 20th. Thick weather and the wind 
contrary. Depth of water seventeen fathoms. Sure- 
ly we must be nigh some land, and, were it not for 
such weather, perhaps [we] might see it. Latitude 
39 59". A good southwardly breeze last evening 
shoved us up to this latitude. Here we are, be- 
calmed and fairly lost; for, whether we are to the 
eastward of Nantucket, or between Martha's Vine- 
yard or Block Island, or the last and Montauk Point l 
[a little to the southward of them all], is a matter 
in question amongst our seamen. About sunset I 
go on board the snow at Captain Small's request to 
do something for his rheumatic knee and see a very 
sick boy. After prescribing for him, examining the 
medicine box, giving directions, etc., return to the 

"October 21st. Very calm. Not a breath to 

1 For map, see page 104. 


ruffle the ocean. How uneasy every one on board 
is, fearing to lose the prize! But if we can't stir 
hence others can't come here to molest us. Four- 
teen fathoms of water with yellowish, small gravel 
stones according to some the sign of No Man's 
Land, to others Montauk. I hope we shall know 
where we are soon. The horizon too hazy yet to 
see far. Half past ten o'clock. At length the agree- 
able prospect presents itself. Martha's Vineyard, 
etc., full in view. What an excellent landfall! To 
one who was never out of sight of land a whole day 
before the seeing it again is very pleasing, though 
after only seventeen days' deprivation. It is very 
disagreeable tossing about in so small a vessel at 
this season of the year. Latitude 41 17'. A pilot 
comes on board, and soon another, but too late. . We 
go in between No Man's Land and Gay Head, so 
called from its exhibiting a variety of colors when 
the sun shines bright upon it especially just after 
a rain. Elizabeth Islands in sight on the starboard 
side, Cuddy Hunk the westmost. Ten o'clock P. M. 
We now have Sakonnet Point astern [see map on 
page 96], therefore are safe. Pass up the east side 
of Rhode Island. Our men are in uncommon spirits. 
Anchor about a league up the passage. 

"October 22d. Sunday. Very foggy. What 
wind there is [is] ahead. Weigh anchor and [get] 
out oars. A fair, gentle breeze springs from the 
south. Pass through Bristol Ferry way with hard 
tugging about the middle of the afternoon. Come 
to anchor in the Bay, but where rendered uncertain 
by the fog having come up again. About six o'clock 
Captain Munroe and I, with four of the hands, set 
off for Providence in the boat. Being enveloped in 
an uncommon thick fog, take a compass and a lan- 
tern on board. But proceed not far, the smallness 
of the boat and the inexpertness of the rowers occa- 
sioning a motion agitating our compass beyond use. 
Therefore we are glad to find the way back to the 


Hope, which is effected by their fixing lanterns in the 
shrouds, in consequence of our raising ours and 

" October 23d. Early after breakfast we set off 
again in the boat with the compass, being still sur- 
rounded with an excessive fog. Eun ashore to the 
eastward of Nayatt Point and mistake it for Conimi- 
cut. However, arrive at Providence about eleven 
o'clock, it having cleared off very pleasant. Thus 
ends our short but tedious cruise. At sunset the 
sloop and snow arrive, firing thirteen cannon each." 



FEW privateers in the war for independence had 
such a remarkable career as the General Washington. 
She was a swift-sailing craft pierced for twenty 
guns, and ordinarily carried a complement of one 
hundred and twenty men. In 1780 this privateer, 
then commanded by Captain Walker, had an action 
with a ship of .eighteen guns and a brig of six guns 
that lasted six hours, when the enemy, being satis- 
fled that they could not take her without too much 
sacrifice, hauled off, leaving the General Washington 
with her mainmast gone by the board, and having 
four guns dismounted, three men killed and three 
wounded. In the same cruise the General Washington 
came across a fleet of British war vessels, and es- 
caped only by superior seamanship and her fine 
running qualities. The General Washington soon 
afterward was captured by Admiral Arbuthnot's 
squadron. Her name was changed to General Monk, 
and, being refitted, was taken into the British navy 
and placed under the command of Captain Eodgers. 

Captain Rodgers was an officer of unusual ability 
and courage. He was born at Lynington in 1755, 
and at an early age shipped as a midshipman in the 
frigate Arethusa, Captain Hammond. The first ac- 
tive service of young Eodgers was on the North 
American station, where he followed his commander 
to the 44-gun frigate Roeluck. In March, 1776, 
Eodgers was detailed, with the second lieutenant of 



the Roebuck, to man an armed tender of the frigate, 
with orders to surprise the town of Lewes, within 
the Capes of the Delaware. The tender succeeded 
in capturing a sloop, and Rodgers was placed aboard 
with several of his men. 

The British prize crew, however, proved untrue 
to their colors, and, conspiring with the American 
prisoners, ran the sloop ashore while Mr. Eodgers 
was asleep and made a prisoner of him. He was 
taken into the interior and sent to Williamsburg, 
Virginia, and then through Richmond to Charlottes- 
ville, " where he pleasantly spent eight months with 
other prisoners. Their chief enjoyment was to 
ramble among the woods and mountains and to 
gather wild fruits and salads, with which they would 
regale themselves during the noontide heats on the 
banks of some sheltered rivulet." In April, 1777, 
the prisoners were marched to Alexandria, from 
which place Rodgers and several others contrived to 
, escape, and after an exhausting tramp of four hun- 
dred miles reached the Delaware, where they were 
fortunate enough to find the Roebuck and get aboard. 
From this time on Rodgers was entirely engaged 
in predatory expeditions on the shores of Virginia 
and Maryland, and succeeded in cutting out several 
armed vessels. He was in the Roebuck when she, 
with other British war ships, came up the Delaware 
in August, 1778, to bombard Fort Mifflin. After- 
ward he distinguished himself at the siege of Charles- 
ton. On the fall of that place Admiral Arbuthnot 
gave Rodgers the command of the General Washing- 
ton, then called General Monk. During the two years 
Rodgers commanded this vessel he took and assisted 
in taking more than sixty vessels, his services in 
connection with the capture of the Trumbull, Cap- 
tain Nicholson, having been noted* 1 

On the evening of April 7, 1782, while the General 

1 See Ma-clay's History of the Navy, vol. i, pp. 142, 148. 


Monk was cruising off Cape Henlopen in company 
with the frigate Quebec, Captain Mason, the sails of 
eight vessels were discovered lying at anchor in 
Cape May Eoads. Believing them to be Americans 
waiting for an opportunity to get to sea, Captain 
Mason anchored his ships so as to prevent the 
Strange sails from getting to sea under cover of 
night. These vessels were merchantmen under the 
convoy of the Pennsylvania merchant ship Hyder 
Ally. At this period of the war it was the custom of 
the British to fit out privateers in New York and 
send them to cruise in the Chesapeake and off the 
Delaware, to capture merchantmen passing in and 
out. Many vessels were taken in this way. Another 
source of danger in these waters was the swarm of 
refugee boats. Usually these were light-draught 
vessels manned by Tories and other disaffected 
Americans. They concealed their craft in the small 
bays and creeks, and under cover of night attacked 
unsuspecting merchantmen. 

The damage inflicted by these boats became so 
great that on April 9, 1782, the Pennsylvania Legis- 
lature determined to equip a war vessel at the ex- 
pense of the State as Congress, at that time, was 
unable to give adequate protection f or the purpose 
of cruising in these waters. Twenty-five thousand 
pounds were appropriated, and authority was grant- 
ed to borrow twenty-five thousand pounds more if 
necessary, and Messrs. Francis Gurney, John Patton, 
and William Allibone were appointed commission- 
ers to secure the necessary vessels. The merchants 
of Philadelphia, however, had anticipated this meas- 
ure, and on their own responsibility, in March, 1782, 
purchased of John Willcocks the trading vessel 
Hyder Ally. At the time the merchants concluded 
to take this step, the Hyder Ally dropped down the 
river, outward bound, with a cargo of flour. As she 
was the only vessel in any way suited for the serv- 
ice, she was recalled, her flour landed, and she was 


pierced for sixteen 6-pounders. A complement of 
one hundred and ten men was shipped and the com- 
mand given to Lieutenant Joshua Barney, of the 
navy. Barney, as we have just noticed, had re- 
turned to the United States after his extraordinary 
escape from Mill Prison. She sailed as convoy to 
the merchantmen alluded to early in April, strict 
orders being given to Barney to confine his cruising 
ground within the Capes, as the merchants had no 
intention of protecting their commerce beyond that 
limit. The convoy had got as far as Cape May Roads, 
where it was discovered by Captain Mason's blockad- 
ing force. 

Not knowing the exact force of the vessels he 
had seen within the Eoads, Captain Mason on the 
following morning ordered Bodgers to enter the 
roads and reconnoiter, and, in case the vessels were 
not too strong for him, to attack, while the Quebec 
would proceed higher up, so as to prevent them 
from entering the Delaware. Before Captain 
Rodgers could carry out his instructions, he saw 
three sails standing toward him, which were soon 
made out to be British privateers fitted out at New 
York, one of them being the Fair American, a ship of 
fourteen guns, which had been taken from the colo- 
nists. This privateer had been one of the squadron 
under the orders of Captain Biddle, of the Randolph, 
when that unfortunate vessel was blown up by the 

Captain Bodgers communicated his design to the 
commanders of the privateers, and asked for their 
support. The captain of the Fair American promised 
to co-operate, but the other two held aloof, prefer- 
ring to take their chances in independent action. 
The General Monk stood into the Eoads with the 
Fair American, and about noon rounded Cape May 
Point. This discovered them to the convoy, and sig- 
naling the merchantmen to make sail up the bay 
Lieutenant Barney maneuvered so as to cover their 

1782. A STRATAGEM. 181 

retreat. Both the English vessels made straight 
for the convoy. The Fair American in passing the 
Hyder Ally gave her a broadside, to which the Ameri- 
cans made no reply, and then hastened on in chase of 
the fleeing traders. One of these, a ship, surren- 
dered at the first summons; another, the only armed 
vessel, aside from the Hyder Ally, in the convoy, ran 
ashore and was deserted by her crew, who escaped 
over the jib boom, while a brig and two ships en- 
deavored to enter Morris Eiver, and in the effort to 
cut them off the Fair American ran aground. 

This left the Eyder Ally and the General Monk 
alone to dispute the supremacy of the Eoads. Cap- 
tain Eodgers made for the Hyder Ally with the inten- 
tion of discharging his broadside at close quarters, 
and then boarding in the smoke. When within pistol 
shot the Americans poured in their broadside, and 
perceiving that it was the enemy's programme to 
board Barney instructed his men at the wheel to 
execute the next order " by the rule of contrary." 
Just as the ships were about to foul, Barney called 
out to the helmsmen in a loud voice, which was in- 
tended to be heard aboard the enemy's ship: " Hard 
aport your helm! Do you want him to run aboard 
us? " The helmsmen understood their cue, and clap- 
ping the wheel hard to starboard brought the Eng- 
lishman's jib boom afoul of the Hyder Ally's fore rig- 
ging, which exposed the General Monk to a raking 
fire from the entire American broadside. It took 
but a minute for the Americans to lash the ships 
together, and then they began delivering a destruc- 
tive, raking fire, to which the enemy was unable to 
make reply except with small arms. 

The Englishmen endeavored to board, but Lieu- 
tenant Barney had made such admirable defense 
against this that they were frustrated. The enemy 
then endeavored to pick off the Americans with their 
small arms, and a lively, rattling fire of musketry 
was the consequence. Many of the marines in the 


Ryder Ally were thoroughbred " backwoodsmen," to 
whom the use of firearms was as natural as walking. 
One of these men, a Buck County rifleman, particu- 
larly attracted the attention of Captain Barney. In 
the hottest of the fight, when both sides were mak- 
ing every exertion to gain the victory, this man sev- 
eral times asked his commander, "Who made this 
gun I'm using?" Such a seemingly useless ques- 
tion in the heat of battle, as might be expected, 
drew a rough answer from the captain. But Barney 
knew the man had never been on a ship before, and 
that fact prevented severer treatment for his breach 
of marine etiquette. The man, however, was not 
idle. The coolness and deliberation with which he 
fired showed that he was not in the least excited, 
and seemed as much pleased as if he were engaging 
in some harmless pastime. Asking the question for 
the third time, Captain Barney 'sharply inquired why 
he wanted to know. "W-a-a-1," replied the man, 
with the drawl peculiar to the mountaineers, " this 
'ere bit o' iron is jes' tie best smoothbore I ever fired 
in my life." 

A few minutes after this another Buck Oounty 
"marine," who was equally ignorant of nautical 
etiquette, with the familiarity of a backwoodsman 
called out to Barney: "Say, Cap, do you see that 
fellow with the white hat? " and firing as he spoke 
Captain Barney looked in the direction indicated, 
and saw a man with a white hat on the enemy's 
deck jump at least three feet and fall to rise no 
more. " Cap," again called out the marksman, 
" that's the third fellow I've made hop." After the 
battle was over the Americans found that every one 
of the Englishmen who had been killed or wounded 
by small arms had been struck either in the head or 

During the heat of the action Captain Barney, 
in order that he might get a better view of the 
battle, stood on the binnacle on the quarter-deck, 


where lie presented an excellent target for the 
enemy's sharpshooters as he soon found out One 
ball from the enemy's tops passed through his hat, 
just grazing the crown of his head, while another 
tore off a part of the skirt of his coat. Objecting to 
this treatment, he called out to his marine officer, 
Mr. Scull, to direct the fire of his men at the enemy's 
tops and it was obeyed, and with such effect that 
every shot brought down its man, so that in a few 
minutes the tops were cleared. 

At the opening of the battle, just as Captain 
Barney had taken his station on the binnacle, he ob- 
served one of his officers with the cook's axe up- 
lifted in his hand, about to strike one of his own 
men who had deserted his gun and was skulking 
behind the mainmast. At this moment a round shot 
hit the binnacle on which Barney was standing and 
threw him to the deck. Supposing that his com- 
mander was hurt, the officer threw down the axe 
and ran to Barney's assistance, but the commander 
quickly regained his feet, uninjured, whereupon the 
officer deliberately picked up the axe and again 
sought the skulker. By this time, however, the fel- 
low had got over his " first scare," and was found at 
his gun, where he fought courageously to the close 
of the battle. 

A brother-in-law of Captain Barney, Joseph Bed- 
ford, was serving in the Hyder Ally at this time 
as a volunteer and behaved with marked gallantry. 
He was stationed in the maintop, and was wounded 
by a musket ball in the groin, but so interested was 
he in the strife that he did not discover his hurt 
until after the action, when he descended to the deck 
and fell exhausted from loss of blood. 

Captain Bodgers made heroic attempts to extri- 
cate his ship from her unlucky position, but the 
Americans seemed to anticipate every move. They 
cut his shrouds and running rigging so that he could 
not handle the sails. After the battle had lasted 


twenty minutes nearly half the British had been 
slain or injured. Their decks were covered with the 
killed or wounded, the first lieutenant, purser, sur- 
geon, boatswain, gunner in fact, every officer in the 
ship (excepting one midshipman) was either killed or 
injured. Captain Eodgers himself had received a 
painful wound in the foot. Finding that the Quebec 
was too far away to render him immediate assist- 
ance, Captain Eodgers, thirty minutes from the time 
the action opened, surrendered, having had twenty 
men killed and thirty-three wounded. The Hyder 
Ally had four killed and eleven wounded. 

When the American first officer came aboard to 
take possession Captain Eodgers ordered one of his 
men to go into his cabin and bring up his fowling 
piece a beautiful silver-mounted gun and in the 
presence of the boarding officer threw it overboard, 
remarking: "This shall never become the property 

of any d d rebel!" Captain Eodgers, however, 

forgot to destroy his book of signals, which fell into 
the hands of the Americans, and materially assisted 
them in eluding the frigate, as will be seen. 

Throwing a prize crew of thirty-five men aboard 
the General Honk, Barney, without waiting even to 
learn the name of his prize, ordered her British 
ensign to be rehoisted, and showing English colors 
on the Hyder Ally he put up the bay as if in chase 
of the merchantmen, while the Hyder Ally prepared 
to cover the rear. The Fair American was found to 
be in too shallow water to warrant an attack on 
her, so Barney contented himself with making sure 
of his present conquest. Deceived by the flag on 
the General Monk and Hyder Ally 9 Captain Mason 
made no great effort to hasten to the scene of con- 
flict, as by the aid of the signal book Captain Barney 
was able to answer his signals, so that the merchant- 
men and two war ships were able to reach a place 
of safety before dark. 

A gentleman who visited the Hyder Ally and her 


prize on their arrival describes the scene: "I ^ 
then in Philadelphia, quite a lad, when the acti 
took place. Both ships arrived at the lower p* 
of the city with a leading wind, immediately afi 
the action, bringing with them all their killed a 
wounded. Attracted to the wharf by the sah 
which the Hyder Ally fired, of thirteen guns, whi 
was then the custom, one for each State, I saw t 
two ships lying in the stream, anchored near ea 
other. In a short time, however, they warped ii 
the wharf to land their killed and wounded, and en 
osity induced me, as well as many others, to go 
board each vessel. . . . The General Honk's dec 
were in every direction besmeared with blood, c< 
ered with the dead and wounded, and resembled 
charnel house. Several of her bow ports we 
knocked into one, a plain evidence of the we 
directed fire of the Hyder Ally. The killed a 
wounded were carried ashore in hammocks. 

"I was present at a conversation which to 
place on the quarter-deck of the General Monk 1 
tween Captain Barney and several merchants 
Philadelphia. I remember one of them observiD 
'Why, Captain Barney, you have been truly forl 
nate in capturing this vessel, considering she is 
far superior to you in point of size, guns, men, a: 
metal.' 'Yes, sir/ Barney replied. 'I do consid 
myself fortunate. When we were about to engaj 
it was the opinion of myself, as well as my crew, th 
she would blow us to atoms, but we were determin 
she should gain her victory dearly/ One of i. 
wounded British sailors observed: 'Yes, sir. Ca 
tain Eodgers said to our crew, a little before tl 
action commenced, "Now, my boys, we shall ha 
the Yankee ship in five minutes," and so we 
thought, but here we are.' " For a long time aft 
the battle the mizzen staysail of the General Mo: 
was exhibited in a sail loft in Philadelphia, in whi< 
were counted three hundred and sixty-five shot hole 


Every attention was shown to the wounded pris- 
oners, which was in marked contrast to the barbar- 
ous treatment Captain Barney had received aboard 
the Yarmouth and in Mill Prison. Captain Barney 
personally attended to the removal of the wounded, 
and secured for Captain Rodgers comfortable quar- 
ters in the home of a Quaker lady, who nursed him 
carefully until fully recovered from his injuries. For 
two or three years afterward, however, he was 
obliged to use crutches, and it was seven years be- 
fore he could walk any considerable distance. On 
the close of the war Captain Rodgers again served in 
the Royal Navy. He assisted in the siege of Dun- 
kirk, and was active during the whole war with 
France. In 1794 he was attached to the British 
fleet in the West Indies, and won distinction at the 
storming of the forts of St. Lucia, Martinique, Gua- 
deloupe, and Cabrit. In the following year he died 
from yellow fever, April 24th, at Grenada. It is of 
interest to note in this connection that the com- 
manding British officer on this station to whom 
Captain Rodgers made report of his capture was Ad- 
miral Digby, whom we remember as having com- 
manded the British fleet off Plymouth, England, 
when Barney made his escape from Mill Prison. 

For this truly brilliant action Captain Barney 
received a sword from the State of Pennsylvania, 
and his prize, which was purchased by the United 
States under her original name, General Washington, 
was refitted and placed under his command. While 
this was being effected Captain Barney again went 
down the bay in the Hyder Ally to see what chance 
there was of getting his convoy to sea. In this trip 
he captured the refugee schooner Hook 'em Snivey, 
and brought her back to Philadelphia. 

We have now followed the career of the O-eneral 
Washington as an American privateer, as an English 
cruiser, as the prize to the merchants of Philadel- 
phia, and now we find her as a United States cruiser, 


and, as will be seen, for several years the only vei 
retained in the service. On May 18, 1782, Oap1 
Barney sailed from Philadelphia in the Gen 
Washington as escort to a fleet of fifteen or sixt 
merchantmen. On reaching the Capes it was foi 
that a powerful British blockading squadron m 
it hazardous to attempt getting to sea, upon wl 
the traders returned. 

A sealed packet had been given to Barney wi 

he was not to open until "you get about fo 

leagues to sea, keeping as much to the eastward 

circumstances will admit, always keeping the pac 

slung with weights sufficient to sink it in case 

your falling in with an enemy of superior force. 

this matter we request you will pay particular at 

tion, as the dispatches are of the utmost consequent 

When the General Washington had reached the 

sired distance from land Barney opened the pacl 

which he found to be from Eobert Morris, Supei 

tendent of Finance of the United States. 3 

instructions, in part, were: "You are to proc< 

directly to Cape Frangois, in Hispaniola, and if i 

French and Spanish fleets should not be there 3 

must proceed to the place where they may be, a 

when you shall have found them you are to delr 

to the French and Spanish admirals the inclo* 

letters. I expect that, in consequence of these 1 

ters, a frigate will be ordered to convoy you 

Havana, and thence to America. You will go 

Havana, where you will deliver the inclosed leti 

to Eobert Smith, Esq., agent for the United Stai 

at that place. You will also inform all persons c< 

cerned in the American trade that you are bound i 

such port of the United States as you may be al 

to make, and you will take on board your ship, 

freight, any moneys which they think proper 

ship, but no goods or merchandise of any kii 

For the moneys you are to charge a freight of t 1 

per cent., one half of which you shall have; t 


other is to be applied toward the expense of your 

" If a frigate is granted by the French admiral 
to convoy yon, the captain of her will be instructed 
by the admiral to receive any moneys which it may 
be thought proper to put on board of him. I should 
suppose that by dividing the risk, or shipping a part 
on board of each, there will be greater safety than 
by putting all in one bottom. You are to stay as 
short a time as possible at Havana, and then, in com- 
pany with the frigate, make the best of your way 
to some port in the United States. This port of 
Baltimore would be the best, but you must be guided 
by your own discretion on the occasion, together 
with such information as you may be able to pro- 
cure. It is not improbable that a stronger escort 
than one frigate may be granted, in which case you 
will find a greater security, and a division of the 
money among many will multiply the chances for 
receiving it." Captain Barney also had an order 
for the commander of the American frigate Deane, 
Captain Samuel Nicholson, which was thought to 
be cruising somewhere in his course, to accompany 
the General Washington as an escort. Nothing, how- 
ever, was seen of this frigate and Captain Barney 
shaped his course for Cape Francois. 

While off Turk's Island the General Washington at 
nighttime overhauled a heavily armed vessel which 
acted in a very suspicious manner. When within 
hailing distance' the usual questions were passed, 
but they were so unsatisfactory that Captain Bar- 
ney determined to inquire more closely into the 
stranger's character. With this idea in mind he 
ordered a gun to be fired over her; but the American 
crew, standing at their guns with lighted matches, 
expecting the order to fire at any moment, mistook 
the command and poured in a broadside. This was 
ineffectual, as the stranger, evidently disliking the 
appearance of the cruiser, had dropped astern and 


was preparing to make off. The Englishman 
came round and managed to get in a raking 
which caused some confusion in the cruiser 
hampered her maneuvers for the rest of the ac1 

Captain Barney was soon alongside the stran 
and a running fight followed. The enemy, howe 
availed herself of the tangled condition of the 
eral Washington's rigging and got in several ral 
fires. It was soon found that she was very i 
manned, and was armed with 9-pounders, so that 
situation began to get serious for the Americ 
The G-eneral Washington, it is true, had 9-poun< 
also, but they were made so by having bore< 
pounders to this larger caliber a dangerous exj 
ment and on this occasion six of the guns ^ 
upset in the first broadside, being unable to st 
the 9-pounder charges of powder. It required m 
precious time to remount these guns. 

As the ships were about to open fire Cap1 
Barney turned to one of his passengers, James 
McOulloch, and told him he had better go bel 
where he would be out of danger. Mr. McCull 
begged to stay on deck. Coolly walking over to 
arms chest, he examined several muskets, lookec 
their flints, tried them to his shoulder, and fhu 
selected one that suited him. He then slung a < 
tridge box over his shoulder, and adjusting a ha 
kerchief to his head fired the first musket shot 
the enemy. Throughout the whole of the action 
was conspicuous for his cool intrepidity. At < 
time his gun missed fire, upon which he calmly 
on the arms chest, took out a knife or key, and af 
bringing the flint to the proper edge resumed 
" target practice," as he expressed it. He fired m 
times than any other man in the ship. Thirty-t 
years afterward Mr. McCulloch was wounded g 
taken prisoner by the English in the action at No 
Point. After peace was declared he held the p< 
tion of collector of the port of Baltimore. Two 


Captain Barney's brothers were serving in the Gen- 
eral Washington at this time and commanded in the 

Captain Barney realized that his best place was 
at close quarters, and he ran his ship close alongside, 
until the yards nearly interlocked with those of the 
enemy. Orders were then given to bring the ship 
aboard the enemy; but the Englishman, having the 
full use of his sails, kept away and soon drew ahead. 
But still it was known that the enemy were seriously 
injured, and there was every hope that they would 
soon surrender, when a 9-pound shot passed through 
the General Washington's mainmast, and about the 
same time another shot struck the head of her miz- 
zenmast, splitting it halfway down to the deck. 
This compelled the Americans to sheer off if they 
would save their masts, and the privateer, as she 
was then known to be, made her escape in the night. 
On the same day the General Washington had cap- 
tured a brig laden with rum, which was sent to Cape 
Frangois, where Captain Barney arrived in safety. 

It was here learned that the magnificent French 
fleet had been defeated by the British, and that only 
a remnant was left at Cape Frangois. One of these, 
the 64-gun ship of the line Eveilli6, was detailed to 
escort the General Washington to Havana, where 
six hundred thousand dollars in specie were taken 
aboard, and both vessels sailed for the United States. 
Arriving off the Delaware they were chased by a 
British line of battle ship and two frigates, but the 
Frenchmen used their stern chasers with such good 
effect that the leading frigate had her fore-topmast 
cut away, and as her consorts could not come within 
gunshot of the Frenchmen and the Americans they 
gained the Delaware in safety. Here the French 
frigate took leave, and, seizing the first opportunity, 
made sail for France. 

During that night the General Washington passed 
rapidly up the bay, and about three o'clock on the 


following morning she suddenly came upon a 
of refugee boats. Barney ran among them 
chored, and, pouring in a heavy fire, sank one o 
barges, with sixty men, captured several ot 
recaptured five American vessels with thirty 
aboard, and dispersed the others. Reaching I 
delphia Barney landed the money, and in th< 
lowing October he sailed for Europe with impo: 
dispatches to our ministers, who were condu< 
negotiations for peace. Early in January, 178 
received a passport from the king of Englan< 
the "ship General Washington, belonging to 
United States of North America/ 9 and sailed 
for the United States. As the General Washi 
had a large amount of . specie aboard, her 
mander was instructed to avoid all British crui 
in spite of the passport, lest the money might t 
them to detain her. She arrived safely at Phil 
phia, March 12th. In the following June the Ge 
Washington, then the only United States war v 
in commission, again sailed to England, still 13 
the command of Captain Barney. Returning 
this cruise, she was sold in 1784. 



IP further evidence is needed to show the inti- 
nate relationship between the United States navy 
t,nd our early privateer service, we have it in the 
act that of our twenty-five torpedo boats bearing 
he names of officers commanding in th,e navy of the 
Jevolution and in the War of 1812 fifteen were 
tamed after men who at one time commanded priva- 
eers. Torpedo boat No. 22 bears the name of one 
f our successful privateersmen, John Manly. Under 
, resolution of Congress, October 10, 1776, Manly 
ras placed second on the list of the twenty-four 
aptains in the navy, being ranked only by James 
Ticholson. His first command was the Massachu- 
etts State cruiser Lee, in which vessel he made one 
f the first important captures of the war. 1 While 
i command of the Continental 32-gun frigate Han- 
wk, Manly, in 1777, took the 28-gun British frigate 
r o# after a severe action. 2 

Owing to the scarcity of vessels in the regular 
avy, Manly, early in 1779, put to sea from Boston 
3 commander of the 16-gun privateer Cumberland, 
ut when only a short time out he was captured by 
le British frigate Pomona-^bj another account the 
hunderer and carried into Barbadoes,with his men, 
here he was imprisoned and treated with great 
^verity. Determined to regain his liberty, Manly 

lee Maclay's History of the Nayy, voL i, pp. 48, 49. * Ibid., pp. 88-90. 



managed to bribe the jailer, and getting out of the 
prison with his men at night he seized an English 
Government tender and, placing her crew in irons, 
reached the United States. Making his way to Bos- 
ton, Manly was soon provided with another com- 
mand, the fine 20-gun ship Jason, manned by one hun- 
dred men. That Manly should have found so little 
difficulty in securing this splendid craft so soon 
after his loss of the Cumberland, particularly at a 
time when desirable ships were scarce, is a sufficient 
commentary on his ability. 

The Jason sailed from Boston about June 25, 1779, 
for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where her second 
officer, Mr. Frost, had been engaged in securing addi- 
tional men for her complement. Arriving at Ports- 
mouth a day or so after leaving Boston, the Jason 
took aboard Mr. Frost and the men, and then put 
to sea for a general cruise against the enemy. On 
the morning of the second day out the man at the 
masthead reported two sails directly ahead, and 
Captain Manly ascended to the f oretop with his glass 
to discover their force and character. On returning 
to the deck he told First Officer Thayer that he be- 
lieved the strangers to be an American privateer 
with a prize in company. Mr. Thayer then went for- 
ward, and after a careful scrutiny through the glass 
came to the conclusion that ,one of the vessels was 
a frigate and the other a brig. Eunning closer to 
them, so as to clear up all question as to their charac- 
ter, the Americans gradually became convinced that 
the strangers were British vessels of war, and on 
Mr. Thayer's advice the Jason was put about to see 
if the sails would give chase. As soon as this ma- 
neuver was completed, the strangers promptly put 
about in pursuit, the Americans making every effort 
to recover the port they had so recently left. When 
the privateer had reached the Isle of Shoals, off the 
entrance to Portsmouth harbor, her pursuers had 
gained upon her so as to be within two gunshots. 


At this moment a heavy squall from the west 
struck the Jason, and in spite of their utmost efforts 
the Americans saw their ship taken aback, thrown 
on her beam ends, and their three masts carried 
away. Relieved of the weight of her masts, the pri- 
vateer righted, by which time the squall had blown 
over, the vessels pursuing the privateer evidently 
having all they could attend to in standing under 
the squall, for they made way to sea and were not 
seen again. Captain Manly immediately went to 
work clearing away the wreckage and repairing 
damages. When the sails were got aboard it was 
found that one of the crew had been caught under 
the fore-topsail and drowned. 

The circumstance of Captain Manly having lost 
his first private armed ship, the Cumberland, at the 
outset of her cruise, and having the misfortune to 
lose the masts of his second ship, the Jason, when 
:>nly two days out, was argued by the superstitious 
seamen as a sign that he was an unlucky commander, 
which, taken in connection with the drowning of the 
seaman in the wreckage, led the crew of the Jason 
;o mutiny. It is here that we have a good illustra- 
;ion of the qualities called for in the successful pri- 
rateersman. The difficulties confronting Captain 
klanly certainly were enough to discourage the ordi- 
lary commander. The way he faced the situation 
s graphically described by one of the crew, Joshua 
Davis, a hairdresser's apprentice, of Boston, nine- 
;een years old, who had left his father's shop to 
nake his maiden voyage on the ocean. 

Davis writes: "We got up jury masts and ran 
n between the Isle of Shoals and Portsmouth, where 
>ur captain was determined to take our masts in. 
n a few days Captain Manly went on shore to see 
o getting the masts on board. While he was gone 
*atrick Cruckshanks, our boatswain, Michael Wall, 
Boatswain's mate, and John Graves, captain of the 
orecastle, went forward and sat down on the stump 

1779. MUTINY. 195 

of the bowsprit and said they would not step the 
masts in such a wild roadstead to endanger their 
lives, but if the ship was taken into the harbor they 
would do it with pleasure. [This meant that the 
men would then have a good chance to desert, which 
Captain Manly was most desirous they should not 
do. E. S. M.] When Captain Manly came on 
board he asked Mr. Thayer why the people were not 
at work, and was told that they wished to get into 
the harbor first. The captain answered, < I'll harbor 
them!' and. stepped up to the sentry at the cabin" 
door, took his cutlass out of his hand and ran for- 
ward, and said: 

" * Boatswain, why do you not go to work? ' 
" He [the boatswain] began to tell him the im- 
propriety of getting the masts in where the ship then 
was, when Captain Manly struck him with the cut- 
lass on the cheek with such force that his teeth were 
to be seen from the upper part of his jaw to the 
lower part of his chin. He next spoke to John 
Graves and interrogated, and was answered in a 
similar manner, when the captain struck him with 
the cutlass on the head, which cut him so badly that 
he was obliged to be sent to the hospital with the 
boatswain. The captain then called the other to 
come down and to go to work. Michael Wall came 
down to him. The captain made a stroke at him, 
which missed, and, while the captain was lifting up 
the cutlass to strike him again, Wall gave him a 
push against the stump of the foremast and ran aft. 
The captain made after him. Wall ran to the main 
hatchway and jumped down between the decks and 
hurt himself very much. The captain then, with 
severe threats, ordered the people to go to work. 
They went to work and stepped the masts, got the 
topmasts on end, lower yards athwart, the topsail 
yards on the caps, topgallant masts on end, sails 
bent, running rigging rove, boats on booms, etc., and 
all done in thirty-six hours." 


Having repaired his extensive damages through 
sheer force of will power Captain Manly prepared to 
sail without touching port. On the day he was 
ready the privateer Hazard, of Boston, hove in sight, 
and running down under the Jason's stern hailed, 
informed Captain Manly that she had orders from 
the General Court of Massachusetts to instruct 
every armed craft from that State to repair to the 
Penobscot " without fail." This order was given in 
connection with the ill-fated Penobscot expedition 
which Massachusetts was at that time undertaking 
against the enemy. Captain Manly indicated his 
readiness to obey the order; but as soon as the Haz- 
ard was out of sight he tripped anchor and stood to 
sea, shaping his course, not toward the Penobscot, 
but toward Sandy Hook. Evidently Manly did not 
relish the idea of adding another to his already 
formidable list of disasters. 

When off the harbor of New York the Jason 

hove to, and under easy stretches waited for a sail 

to appear. On July 25th the sailing master went to 

the fore-topmast head to take his turn. About three 

o'clock in the afternoon he cried out, " A sail on the 

weather bow!" and shortly afterward he reported an- 

3ther sail. Both the strangers were soon made out 

to be brigs. The Jason was promptly put about in 

pursuit, but as soon as the brigs made her out they 

spread every sail in escape. The swift-sailing 

American in two hours had come within two gun- 

ihots of the brigs, when Captain Manly sent his men 

;o quarters. At this time the strangers boarded 

ixeir port tacks and, hoisting English colors, gave 

;he privateer a broadside. Manly now ordered the 

jailing master to get his best bower anchor out so 

hat the bill of it would hook into the foreshrouds 

>f the leading enemy when the moment came to 

ioard. Having completed his preparations Manly 

rdered his helm hard aport, and running alongside 

aught his anchor in the enemy's fore rigging, as 


intended, and then opened from every gun that 
would bear. The first shots from the Jason caused 
great havoc aboard the stranger, killing many men 
and wounding more. 

Observing that the British crew, with the excep- 
tion of their commander, had run below, Manly 
ordered Second Officer Frost to board and send the 
English commander to the Jason. This was quickly 
done, when the Americans cut away the enemy's 
fore rigging so as to disengage the privateer, and 
the Jason was in swift pursuit of the other English- 
man, who was doing his best to escape. Getting 
within gunshot Manly gave the chase a few shots 
from his bow guns, which induced her to heave to. 
Captain Manly ordered them to send their boat 
aboard, and on receiving, in reply, " Our boat won't 
swim," he called out, " Then sink in her. You shall 
come on board or I will fire into you!" This an- 
swer had the desired effect, for in a few minutes they 
sent a boat aboard. The prizes were the English 
privateers Hazard, of eighteen guns, from Liverpool, 
and the Adventurer, of the same force, from Glasgow. 
The only man of the Americans hurt was the sailing" 
master of the Jason the one who first discovered 
the brigs who was struck in the head by a shot. He 
died a few days later. As soon as possible the pris- 
oners were placed in irons, and after a few days' sail 
the three vessels arrived safely at Boston. 

Captain Manly had been in Boston only a few 
days when he learned that a large fleet of British 
merchantmen homeward bound was skirting the 
New England coast. He hastened aboard the Jason 
and put to sea with all dispatch, in hopes of falling 
in with the traders. Early in August, when the pri- 
vateer had been out only a few days, and by carry- 
ing a press of sail had reached the Nantucket 
Shoals, there being a heavy fog at the time, the man 
at the masthead cried out, " A sail ahead within one 
cable's length [seven hundred and twenty feet] of 


us! " The Jason ran under the stranger's stern, and, 
in response to First Officer Thayer's hail, was in- 
formed that they were from Liverpool, bound for 
New York. Captain Manly, who had been below, 
now came on deck and told Mr. Thayer that he 
would fire a shot at her so as to make the vessel 
heave to. A gun accordingly was trained on the 
stranger, but before it could be discharged a sea- 
man called out, "A sail to windward!" and almost 
at the same instant the man in the foretop shouted, 
"There is a fleet bearing down upon us!" Feeling 
that it was imprudent to run into a large fleet, which 
undoubtedly would have a strong escort, Captain 
Manly stood northward until he judged himself 
clear. After sailing one hour on this course the fog 
lifted, revealing to the astonished Americans forty 
large sails, with a heavy ship astern of them. This 
last vessel, on making the privateer out, crowded 
all sail as if to escape. The Jason made after her 
under a press of canvas and gained very fast. Cap- 
tain Manly, who with Mr. Thayer was closely watch- 
ing the chase, suddenly discovered that the stranger 
had drags out, which, notwithstanding the large area 
of sail she was carrying, greatly retarded her prog- 
ress through the water. Captain Manly instantly 
saw through the trick, and remarked to Mr. Thayer: 
"That ship has got drags alongside and means to 
trap us. We will go about and try them." Accord- 
ingly the privateer's course was changed, upon which 
the stranger immediately imitated the maneuver and 
made every effort to overtake her. The Englishman 
for there could now be no doubt of her nationality 
soon proved that she was a fast sailer and was 
rapidly overhauling the Jason, having come within 
two gunshots of her, when, fortunately for the 
Americans, the fog rolled over again, and by chang- 
ing his course Captain Manly eluded his crafty foe. 
Standing eastward a few days, after this narrow 
escape, a sail to leeward was reported and the Jason 


crowded on all sail in pursuit. In two hours the 
stranger's hull was visible from the privateer's deck. 
At this juncture the man at the main topmast head 
reported: "Two sails bearing down on the ship we 
are chasing." As it was now dark, Captain Manly 
deemed it prudent to give over the chase and to run 
under easy sail until the following morning. At 
dawn he discovered two ships in chase of the Jason, 
their hulls well above the horizon and apparently 
gaining very fast. All hands were sent to quarters, 
and the guns on both sides were manned preparatory 
to a desperate fight. Soon one of the ships came 
under the privateer's starboard quarter, when the 
man in the maintop reported that he recognized the 
ship as the American frigate Deane, and that he 
could make out her commander as Captain James 
Nicholson, the man having at one time served in that 
ship under Nicholson. After a careful scrutiny 
through the glass Captain Manly was satisfied that it 
was Nicholson and that the frigate was- the Deane, 
a ship that Manly was destined soon to command. 
.After exchanging hails Manly went aboard the Deane. 
The other ship was the 24-gun frigate Boston, Cap- 
tain Samuel Tucker. These three vessels sailed in 
company ten or twelve days, when the Jason parted 
with them, giving and receiving a salute of thirteen 

Eunning eastward, after his separation from the 
American frigates, "the ship's company had pork 
served out to them," records one of the Jason's men. 
" Thirty-two pieces were hung over the ship's side to 
soak overnight. The next morning a man went to 
his rope, and on -pulling it up found the rope bit and 
the pork gone. Every man ran to his rope and found 
them bitten in the same way. They went aft and 
looked over the taffrail and saw a shark under the 
stern. Our captain came on deck and ordered the 
boatswain to bring him a shark hook. He baited 
it with three pounds of pork. The shark took hold 

200 CAPTAIN Jf HN MANLY. 1779. 

of the bait and hooked himself. We made the chain 
fast to the main brace, and when we got him half- 
way up he slapped his tail and stove in four panes of 
the cabin windows. We got a bit of a rope round his 
tail and pulled him on board, and when he found 
himself on deck he drove the man from the helm 
and broke two spokes of the wheel. The carpenter 
took an axe and struck him on the neck, which cut 
his head nearly off, the boatswain tickling the shark 
under the belly with a handspike to keep his eyes 
off the carpenter. When he had nearly bled to death 
the carpenter gave him another blow, which severed 
his head from the body. Our captain then ordered 
the steward to give the ship's company two casks 
of butter and the cook to prepare the shark for the 
people's dinner. He was eleven and a half feet 

About eight days after the adventure with the 
shark, a sail ahead was reported. Captain Manly 
gave chase, and in six hours came up with the 
stranger, which proved to be a British privateer from 
Bristol, England, for Barbadoes. Mr. Thayer was 
put aboard to take possession, and sent back her 
master with four men and two bags of dollars which 
they had just taken from a Spanish vessel. A prize 
master and crew were then placed aboard the ship 
and carried her safely into Boston. The privateer 
mounted sixteen 6-pounders, and had a valuable 
cargo of beef, pork, cheese, hats, etc. 

Continuing eastward for several days after this 
capture without sighting a sail, Captain Manly 
changed his course northwest, and in a few days was 
on the Newfoundland Banks. While cruising in this 
vicinity a sail was discovered bearing down on the 
Jason. Manly waited for her to come up, and on hail- 
ing learned that she was a neutral from Martinique, 
and so short of water that her master offered to give 
a barrel of sugar or rum for every barrel of water 
the privateer could spare. Manly sent over four bar- 


rels of the indispensable liquid, and received in re- 
turn two barrels of sugar and two of rum. The mas- 
ter of the merchantman came aboard the Jason. 
" He dined and supped with us and went on board 
his vessel about ten o'clock." 

Early on the 30th of September a sail was dis- 
covered on the starboard beam. As it was calm at 
the time Captain Manly could not chase, but about 
eight o'clock in the morning a light breeze sprang 
up, and the stranger, feeling it first, came toward 
the privateer rapidly. Recognizing her to be a ship 
of force Captain Manly made sail from her, but after 
an all-day run the stranger, about eleven o'clock At 
night, managed to get under the Jason's port quarter. 
On hailing she was found to be the British frigate 
Surprise, 1 at that time one of the swiftest vessels 
in the British navy. 

"What ship is that?" demanded the English- 

"The United States 32-gun frigate Deane," re- 
sponded Captain Manly. 

" Heave to or we will fire into you," came a voice 
from the frigate. 

"Fire away and be damned. We have got as 
many guns as you," defiantly answered Manly. Upon 
this the Surprise delivered her broadside. Manly 
reserved his fire until fairly abreast of his enemy. 
Before the Americans opened with their guns the 
British delivered another broadside, which cut some 
of the privateer's rigging and drove the men out 
of her tops. When fairly alongside of the frigate 
Captain Manly poured a broadside into his opponent 
which silenced two of the enemy's forward guns. 
The next broadside cut away the Englishman's main 
topsail and drove her maintop men to the deck. Both 
vessels now maintained a rapid fire until one o'clock 
in the morning. By that time the Jason's studding 

1 By another account it was the Perseus. 


sails and booms, her canvas, rigging, and yards, were 
so injured as to be unmanageable. Battle lanterns 
were liung on nails along the inside of the bulwarks 
between the guns so as to enable the gunners to see 
how to load and fire, but these were constantly 
shaken down by the concussion resulting from the 
recoil of the guns. It was so dark that the men could 
not handle the cannon. At this moment the men 
forward broke open the fore hatches and ran below, 
refusing to fight against a frigate. Noticing that 
the forward guns were silent, Captain Manly sent 
the sailing master to ascertain the cause of it, but 
that officer did not return. Manly then sent the mas- 
ter's mate on the same errand, but he also failed to 

Eealizing the hopelessness of fighting a regular 
man-of-war and his own mutinous men at the same 
time, Captain Manly seized his trumpet and called 
for quarter; then returning to the men who had re- 
mained faithful to him he ordered them into the 
cabin to receiye their shares of the prize money. The 
two bags of dollars taken from the British priva- 
teer a few days before were emptied on a table and 
shared out to the men according to their stations. 
"Eight dollars were given to me," said the boy 
Davis, " as my share. I went on deck and found the 
ship reeling one way and the other. The helms- 
man was killed and no one to take the wheel. The 
rigging, sails, yards, etc., were spread all over the 
deck. The wounded men were carried to the cock- 
pit, the dead men lying on the deck and no one to 
throw them overboard. The well men were gone 
below to get their clothes in order to go on board 
the frigate. Soon after the frigate's longboat came, 
with their first lieutenant and about twenty sailors 
and marines, when every man that could be found 
on deck was drove into the boat. I went down into 
the steward's room in order to stay on board until 
we got into port. The doctor bad me stay with him 


and attend to the wounded. The next night, about 
twelve o'clock, one of the marines went into the hold 
to get some water. He overheard some of our men 
talking and listened to them, and heard them say 
that at two o'clock they intended rising on the men 
on deck and carrying the ship into Boston. The 
man went on deck and told his officer what he had 
heard. The officer took all his men into the cabin 
and armed them with pistols and cutlasses, and went 
into the hold and ordered every man to come for- 
ward or he would destroy them. They all, to the 
amount of thirty-two men, came forward and were 
put in irons by the feet. I was taken from the doctor 
and put in irons with the rest. In the course of ten 
days we arrived at St. John's, Newfoundland, October 
10th. We were all taken out of irons and ordered 
on deck to be searched for the money we had shared 
among us when, we were taken. I took four dollars 
out of my pocket and hid them in the linings of the 
ship, in order to save them from the plunderers. I 
went on deck, when they searched me and took the 
other four dollars from me. I went below again to 
get my money, but, alas ! it was gone." 

In this action the Jason had eighteen men killed 
and twelve wounded, while the English had seven 
killed and a number injured. Arriving at St. John's 
Captain Manly was called before Rear- Admiral Ed- 
wards, of the 50-gun ship Portland, and asked his 
name. Our privateersman replied, " John Manly." 

"Are you not the same John Manly that com- 
manded a privateer from Boston called the Colum- 
bia?" [Cumberland] asked the admiral. 

" Yes," said Captain Manly. 

"Were you not taken by his majesty's ship 
Thunderer [Pomona?] and carried into Barbadoes?" 
questioned Admiral Edwards. 

" Yes," calmly replied the American commander. 

" Did you not go to the jail keeper and bribe him, 
make your escape out of jail, take a king's tender 


by night, put the men in irons, and carry her into 
Philadelphia? " thundered the admiral. 

To these questions Manly made no answer, as he 
did not wish to incriminate the jail keeper. There- 
upon Admiral Edwards informed Manly that he was 
to be sent to England in irons and confined in Mill 
Prison to the end of the war. This threat was car- 
ried out to the letter, excepting that in 1782 Manly 
was exchanged. Making his way to France he 
reached Boston and was at once placed in com- 
mand of the 32-gun frigate Deane, the same to which 
he had spoken while cruising in the privateer Jason. 
Getting to sea in this favorite ship Captain Manly 
made for the West Indies, and in the course of thir- 
teen days took a valuable ship of twenty guns laden 
with provisions for the British army in New York. 
Soon afterward he was driven into Martinique by a 
50-gun ship and a frigate, where he was blockaded 
until peace was declared. 



SPEAKING of the land operations of the Ameri- 
cans, Henry Cabot Lodge, in his Story of the Bevo- 
lution, describes the last three years of the war as 
the most critical in our struggle for independence. 
He says: " When Washington retreated through the 
Jerseys in 1776 it looked as if the end had come, 
but at least there had been hard fighting, and the 
end was to be met, if at all, in the open field, with 
arms in hand and all the chances that war and 
action and courage could give. Now, four years 
later, the Eevolution seemed to be going down in 
mere inaction through the utter helplessness of 
what passed for the central government. To those 
who looked beneath the surface the prospect was 
profoundly disheartening. It was a very dark hour, 
perhaps the darkest of the whole war. ... In Octo- 
ber, 1780, he [Washington] wrote: ' Our present dis- 
tresses are so great and complicated that it is 
scarcely within the powers of description to give an 
adequate idea of them. . . . We are without money, 
without provisions and forage, except what is taken 
by impress; without clothing, and shortly shall be, 
in a manner, without men/ ... To young Laurens, 
going abroad, Washington wrote that our only hope 
was in. financial aid from Europe; without it the 
next campaign would flicker out and the Eevolu- 
tion die. Money and superiority of sea power, he 
cried, were what we must have. ... It was Gouver- 


206 CLOSING YBABS OF THE WAR 1780-1782. 

neur Morris who wrote: 'Finance. Ah, my friend, 
all that is left of the American Revolution grounds 
there.' " * A careful study of the situation at this 
time will show that our privateers supplied a very 
considerable if not a supremacy of sea power for 
the struggling colonists toward the close of the 
Revolution, and were the means of transporting mu- 
nitions of war and money across the Atlantic. 

The last three years of the war for American 
independence were marked by an almost complete 
suspension of maritime activity on the part of Con- 
tinental war ships, and a remarkable increase in the 
number and activity of our privateers. By the fall 
of Charleston, in May, 1780, the 28-gun frigate Provi- 
dence, the 28-gun frigate Queen of France, the 24-gun 
frigate Boston, and the 18-gun ship sloop Ranger, of 
Captain John Paul Jones fame, were captured or 
destroyed. This left the United States with only six 
war craft: the 32-gun frigate Alliance, the 32-gun 
frigate Confederacy, the 32-gun frigate Deane, the 
28-gun frigate Trumlull, the 20-gun ship Luc de 
Laumn, and the 18-gun ship Saratoga. Of these ves- 
sels, the Trumbull was captured in 1781, and in 1780 
the Saratoga put to sea and was never heard from, 
it being supposed that she had foundered. The 
Confederacy was captured by the enemy in 1781, so 
that only the Alliance, the Deane, the Due de Lauzun, 
and the General WasUngton^-ihe last captured from 
the British in 1782 were- left to carry the flag of 
the newborn nation on the high seas. 

It can readily be understood, therefore, that had 
it not been for our privateers the Stars and Stripes 
would have been, for all practical purposes, com- 
pletely swept from the seas. It was the astonish- 
ing development of this form of maritime warfare 
that enabled the struggling colonists to hold their 
own on the ocean. In the year 1780 two hundred 

1 See Scribner's Magazine for November, 1898. 


and twenty-eight American privateers were commis- 
sioned, carrying in all three thousand four hundred 
and twenty guns; in 1781 there were four hundred 
and forty-nine, with about six thousand seven hun- 
dred and thirty-five guns; and in 1782 three hundred 
and twenty-three, mounting four thousand eight hun- 
dred and forty-five guns. It is very much to be re- 
gretted that many of the cruises and actions of these 
craft have not been recorded. A number of battles 
were fought, daring raids on the enemy's coasts were 
undertaken, and many heroic incidents occurred that 
might well fill a volume of most valuable historical 
reading; but as these vessels sailed merely in a pri- 
vate capacity most of their logs were lost a few years 
after they returned to port, and what data have been 
preserved are, as a rule, meager and fragmentary. 
Enough, however, is known to .show that these pri- 
vate ventures were fraught with thrilling incidents, 
and were most important in their bearing on the 
results of the war. 

Among the first privateers to get to sea in 1780 
was the 2-gun schooner Chance, Captain N. Palmer. 
This little vessel was manned by only fifteen men. 
She was commissioned in Pennsylvania and took 
one vessel, a sloop, as a prize. 

The 10-gun schooner Hope, Captain N. Goodwin, 
got to sea in the same year and made several cap- 
tures. Two years later, while off the coast of Labra- 
dor, she was taken by an English brig carrying 
sixteen guns. The Englishmen took their prize into 
one of the harbors near by, and while lying there 
the crew of the Hope, numbering only twenty-one 
men, rose on their captors, overpowered the brig's 
people, and carried her into Beverly, Massachusetts, 
the home port of the Hope. 

Almost as successful was the 12-gun sloop Re- 
taliation, Captain W. Havens afterward com- 
manded by Captain E. Hart. This vessel was com- 
missioned from Connecticut in 1780,* but it seems 

208 CLOSING TEARS OF THE WAR. 1778-1780. 

that she had made a cruise in the preceding year, 
and while off St. Kitts, May 14, 1779, she was at- 
tacked by a British armed cutter and a brig. The 
enemy made several attempts to board, but each 
time were repulsed with heavy loss. They finally 
sheered off and left the Retaliation to make the best 
of her way to an American port. 

About a year after this, on June 12, 1780, the 
10-gun sloop Comet, Captain C. Harris, of Pennsyl- 
vania, fell in with a convoy of British merchantmen 
off Sandy Hook, and by adroit maneuvering cap- 
tured eight of them, which were sent into Phila- 
delphia. The Comet was commissioned in 1778 
and carried a complement of fifty men. There 
seems to be no record of her having made any other 

On the 22d of October, 1780, the 16-gun priva- 
teer Viper, Captain William Williams, sailed from 
Boston, and early in November sighted a sail bear- 
ing down on her near Cape Hatteras. Captain Wil- 
liams at once gave chase, whereupon the stranger 
turned in flight. About noon the two vessels were 
within pistol shot, when the Americans showed their 
colors and delivered a broadside, to which the chase 
replied after hoisting English colors. A spirited 
cannonade followed for half an hour, when the 
Englishman drew ahead. Captain Williams then 
ported his helm and managed to deliver a raking 
fire. At this time the American commander received 
a musket ball in his breast, which caused his death 
six hours later. Some confusion occurring in the 
Viper at this moment, the Englishman made his 
escape. Afterward it was learned that she was the 
16-gun privateer Hetty, of New York. Captain Wil- 
liams was the only man injured in the American 
vessel. The first officer of the Viper now headed for 
the Capes of the Delaware, intending to make Phila- 
delphia. On the following day he captured the ship 
Margaret, laden with beef, pork, butter, and porter, 


from South Carolina for New York, which was car- 
ried safely into Philadelphia. 

The year 1781 opened with a hard-fought action 
between the 18-gun ship Pilgrim, Captain J. Robin- 
son, of Massachusetts, and the heavily armed British 
ship Mary, of twenty-two guns. In the year 1779 the 
Pilgrim had made three prizes with valuable car- 
goes. While at sea, January 5, 1781, she fell in 
with the Mary, which was manned by eighty-three 
men, under the command of Captain Stewards. One 
of the most desperate actions between privateers 
in this war resulted. The Englishmen finally were 
overcome, but not until their commander and a num- 
ber of the crew had been killed. The American loss 
also was very serious and both vessels were badly 

We get an interesting side light on this cruise of 
the Pilgrim in the account of a seaman named 
Joshua. He says: "On the 16th of May, 1781, I 
entered on board of the privateer Esse$, of twenty 
guns, Captain John Cathcart, and sailed from Bos- 
ton on the 22d of the same month to cruise off Cape 
Clear. On the 4th of June, about four o'clock in the 
afternoon, we discovered a sail directly ahead of 
us. We had to put away until they hoisted their 
colors, and when we hoisted we found them to be 
English. Our captain said he would not attack her, 
as she appeared to be a 20-gun coppered ship and 
full of men, for fear of spoiling our cruise. She 
chased us all that night, and in the morning we 
found that she had carried away her main topmast 
and gave over the chase. We ran on for two days, 
when the man at the masthead cried out, ' A sail!' 
which we stood for, when she made a signal which 
we knew and returned. She came alongside of us 
and proved to be the Pilfirim, Captain Robinson, who 
came on board of us and informed [us] that he had 
taken five prizes out of the Jamaica fleet. Captain 
Robinson being the oldest commander, ordered our 


captain to follow him while they cruised together 
off the coast of Ireland. The next day both gave 
chase to a ship to the leeward and came up with 
her. She proved to be the privateer Defense, of 
eighteen guns, out of Salem, and kept company with 
us. Next day we gave chase to a brig, which we 
found to be from Barbadoes for Cork, with invalids, 
very leaky, and all hands at the pumps; had been 
taken by the privateer Rambler, from Salem, who 
gave them a passport to go on. The Pilgrim boarded 
her first and let her proceed. We afterward boarded 
her and took two 6-pounders and a few sails from 
them. Next morning a sail was discovered ahead; 
the Pilgrim gave chase and we followed her, the 
Defense following us. About one o'clock another 
sail was seen on our larboard [port] beam, to which 
we gave chase, and in two hours ran her hull down. 
We soon found that she was too heavy for us, when 
we hove about and stood from her. She gave chase 
and came up with us very fast, and gave us a shot 
which struck alongside, when our captain ordered 
the quartermaster to pull down the colors. They 
sent an officer on board, who told our lieutenant that 
their ship was the Queen Charlotte, of thirty-two 12- 
and 9-pounders, from London. We were all sent on 
board of her and put in irons. In the meantime the 
Pilgrim got up to the ship we first gave chase to, 
and by her signal we perceived her to be the Rambler 
privateer." Joshua, with his unfortunate ship- 
mates, was carried to England and confined there 
to the close of the war. 

Three other private armed American vessels bore 
the name Pilgrim: One a 16-gun brig with ninety 
men, under Captain H. Crary, from Connecticut, 
which in 1782 captured a vessel with a cargo of 
tobacco; another a brig of four guns and fourteen 
men, under Captain M. Strong, from Pennsylvania; 
and the third an 8-gun brig with eighteen men, 
under Captain J. Starr, from Virginia. 


In February, 1781, the 16-gun brig Holker, Cap- 
tain E. Kean, of Pennsylvania, fell in with the Brit- 
ish cutter Hypocrite, of sixteen guns, and after an 
action of fifteen minutes captured her, with a loss 
of three killed and one wounded, the enemy having 
four killed and seven wounded. In the following 
year, while cruising in the West Indies, the Holker 
fought the 18-gun ship Experiment. These vessels 
were hotly engaged, and the result was still in 
doubt when another American privateer appeared 
on the scene, which induced the Experiment to 
sheer off. 

One of the most creditable actions of this war 
in which an American privateer was engaged took 
place on September 6, 1781. It had been the habit 
of the smaller British cruisers stationed on the 
North American coast to send boat expeditions at 
night for the purpose of plundering estates along 
the shore. One of the most persistent English com- 
manders in this questionable style of warfare was 
Captain Sterling, of the 16-gun sloop of war Savage. 
About the time mentioned Captain Sterling had 
been exploring Chesapeake Bay, and on one occa- 
sion sent a boat expedition to Mount Vernon and 
plundered Washington's estate. Soon after the 
Savage had put to sea from the Chesapeake, and was 
cruising off the coast of Georgia in search of other 
estates to plunder, she fell in with the American 
privateer Congress, of twenty-four guns and two hun- 
dred men, under the command of Captain George 
Geddes, of Philadelphia. Mr. Geddes, as we have 
noticed, had been a highly successful officer in the 
privateer service, having two years before com- 
manded the 10-gun brig Holker, in w;hich he made a 
most creditable record. 

Upon making out the Congress to be an American 
war craft of superior force, Captain Sterling made 
all sail to escape, upon which the Congress gave 
chase. It was early in the morning when the two 


vessels discovered each other, and by half past ten 
o'clock the American had gained so much that she 
was able to open with her bow chasers, and by 
eleven o'clock Captain Geddes was close on the Eng- 
lishman's quarter, when he opened a rapid fire of 
small arms, to which the enemy answered with 
energy. Observing that he had the swifter ship of 
the two, Captain Geddes forged ahead until he got 
fairly abreast of his antagonist, when a fierce broad- 
side duel took place. Notwithstanding the Ameri- 
can superiority in armament, this fire at close range 
so injured the privateer's rigging that it became un- 
manageable, and Captain Geddes was compelled to 
fall back to make repairs. As soon as he had com- 
pleted this work, the Congress again closed on the 
Savage and engaged in a heavy cannon fire. In the 
course of an hour the Englishman was reduced to 
a wreck, the vessels at times being so near each 
other that the men frequently were scorched by the 
flashes of the opposing cannon; and it is even as- 
serted that shot were thrown with effect by hand. 
Seeing that the Englishman was reduced to a de- 
plorable condition, that his quarter-deck and fore- 
castle were swept clear of men, and that his mizzen- 
mast had gone by the board, while the mainmast 
threatened to follow it, Captain Geddes prepared to 
board and settle the sanguinary conflict on the 
enemy's decks. 

Just as the Americans were about to carry out 
this programme the boatswain of the Savage ap- 
peared on the forecastle, and waving his cap an- 
nounced that they had surrendered, upon which 
Captain Geddes immediately took possession. The 
Englishmen's losses, according to their own state- 
ments, were eight killed and twenty-four wounded, 
while those of the Americans were thirty killed or 
wounded. Among the enemy's killed was Captain 
Sterling himself, who appears to have fought with 
the most determined bravery. Unfortunately Cap- 


tain Geddes was not able to secure his prize, as 
both vessels were captured by a British frigate and 
carried into Charleston. The Congress was taken 
into the British service under the name of Duchess 
of Cumberland, Captain Samuel Marsh, and was 
wrecked off the coast of Newfoundland soon after- 
ward while on her way to England with American 
prisoners. 1 

That our privateersmen in the Eevolution were 
exposed to attacks other than those from their open 
enemies is seen in the following account of Thomas 
Wentworth Higginson. In the 
winter of 1781 the 8-gun priva- 
teer brig Ranger, Captain T. Sim- 
mons, sailed from Salem with a 
cargo of salt for Kichmond, Vir- 
ginia. The cargo being disposed 
of at that port, the Ranger 
loaded with flour at Alexandria 
for Havana. "Part of the 
flour," says Mr. Higginson, 
"being from General Washing- 
ton's plantation, was received 
at Havana at the marked 
weight; all was sold, and the 
Ranger returned to Alexandria for another freight. 
Anchoring at the mouth of the Potomac, because 
of head winds, the officers turned in, but were 
aroused before midnight by the watch, with news 
that large boats were coming toward the ship 
from different directions. Simmons and Second Offi- 
cer Joseph Peabody rushed to the deck, the latter 
in his night clothes. As they reached it a volley of 
musketry met them, and the captain fell wounded. 
Peabody ran forward, shouting to the crew to seize 
the boarding pikes, and he himself attacked some 
men who were climbing on board. Meantime an- 

Joseph Peabody. 

i See page 125. 


other strange boat opened fire from another quarter. 
All was confusion; they knew not who were their 
assailants or whence; the captain lay helpless, the 
first officer was serving out ammunition, and Pea- 
body, still conspicuous in his white raiment, had 
command of the deck. Two boats were already 
grappled to the Ranger] he ordered cold shot to be 
dropped into them, and frightened one crew so that 
it cast off ; then he ordered his men against the other 
boat, shouting, ' We have sunk one, boys; now let us 
sink the other! 5 His men cheered, and presently both 
boats dropped astern, leaving one of the Ranger's 
crew dead and three wounded. Peabody himself 
was hurt in three places, not counting the loss of 
his club of hair, worn in the fashion of those days, 
which had been shot clean off, and was found on 
deck the next morning. The enemy proved to be a 
guerrilla band of Tories, whose rendezvous was at 
St. George's Island, near where the Ranger lay at 
anchor. There had been sixty men in their boats, 
while the crew of the Ranger numbered twenty; and 
the same guerrillas had lately captured a brig of 
seven guns and thirty men by the same tactics, 
which the promptness of Peabody had foiled." 

A month after the brilliant action between the 
Congress and the Savage the 14-gun brig Fair America, 
Captain S. Chaplin, of Connecticut, in company with 
the privateer Hotter, captured four English mer- 

No better illustration of the extraordinary de- 
velopment of privateering during the Eevolution can 
be had than the manner in which they made con- 
certed attacks upon the English toward the latter 
part of the war. Not content with merely captur- 
ing the enemy's merchantmen and even cruisers 

our privateers arranged expeditions against the 
common foe in squadrons, and attacked towns. 

Early in March, 1782, four American privateers 
united in an attack on a squadron of armed British 


vessels at Tortola, in the West Indies. Among the 
American craft were the Holker and the 20-gun ship 
Junius Brutus, having a complement of one hundred 
and twenty men, under Captain N. Broadhouse. Un- 
fortunately the details of this ambitious expedition 
have not been preserved, but enough is known to 
show that a severe engagement resulted and two 
of the enemy's vessels were captured. 

In July, 1782, four American privateers united 
in the attack on the town of Luenburg. They were 
the 9-gun schooner Hero, Captain G. Babcock; the 
6-gun brig Hope, Captain H. Woodbury; the 2-gun 
cutter Swallow, Captain J. Tibbets, and one other. 
The first two were from Massachusetts, and car- 
ried twenty-five and thirty-five men, respectively, 
while the Swallow was from New Hampshire, and 
had a complement of only twenty men. Landing a 
force of men to attack the town from the shore, the 
four privateers entered the harbor and soon had 
the place in their possession. After holding it some 
time they released the town on a payment of one 
thousand pounds. 

Another instance of concerted action among 
American privateers was that in which the 10-gun 
ship Charming Sally, Captain T. Dunn, of Massachu- 
setts, took part. This privateer, in company with 
other private armed craft, some time in 1782, at- 
tacked the formidable English ship Blaze Castle, 
carrying twenty-six guns. An action of two hours' 
duration followed, when the enemy surrendered, the 
loss to the Americans being five killed or wounded. 

In this year the British made a daring and suc- 
cessful attempt to cut out of Gloucester harbor the 
ship Harriet, which they manned and sent to sea 
Tyith the intention of running her into Halifax. Be- 
fore reaching that port, however, the Harriet fell in 
with the American privateer General Sullivan, a brig 
of fourteen guns and one hundred men, under Cap- 
tain T. Balling, of New Hampshire, and was recap- 


tured. Fonr years before this the General Sullivan 
had taken the British ship Mary, of eight guns. 

It was in 1782 that Captain D. Adams, of the 
10-gun sloop Lively, of Massachusetts, had the pleas- 
ure of rescuing the officers and men of the Brit- 
ish frigate Blonde that had been wrecked on a 
barren island, where the Englishmen must have 
perished in a short time had they not been dis- 

In October the 16-gun schooner Scammel, Captain 
N. Stoddard, of Massachusetts, was chased ashore 
on the New Jersey coast by two British war ships. 
The enemy endeavored to send their boats aboard 
to make sure of the destruction of the privateer, but 
they met with such a hot fire that they were com- 
pelled to retire. Shortly afterward the Scammel got 
afloat, and having sustained no material injury 
made her way to port. 

In the same month Captain S. Thompson, of 
Massachusetts, led a small party of men in a row- 
boat in an attack on a British packet ship. After 
skirmishing two hours the Americans were com- 
pelled to retire, having sustained a loss of three 
killed and ten wounded. Soon after this Mr. Thomp- 
son captured a snow laden with oats, and in the 
following November he took a ship with a cargo 
of fish. 

These captures were among the last made by 
American privateers in the Eevolution. The entire 
number of vessels taken in this struggle from the 
British by our maritime forces, including the Con- 
tinental cruisers, was about eight hundred, of which 
one hundred and ninety-eight were secured by craft 
commissioned directly by Congress and the remain- 
ing six hundred were taken by private enterprise. 
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the audacity 
of our privateers was the number of king's cruisers 
taken by them. Not more than twelve regular war 
ships were taken by the Continental cruisers, while 


sixteen vessels of this class were captured by our 
privateers or by private enterprise. 1 

James, in his History of the British Navy, records 
an action between the French privateer Atalante and 
the British packet Antelope, Captain Curtis. The 
Atalante, very likely, was one of the old American 
privateers engaged in the war for American inde- 
pendence, and on the close of that struggle passed 
into French hands. She was manned largely by 
American and Irish seamen, and it is probable that 
she was owned by Americans, for we find that she 
was fitted out in Charleston, South Carolina. 

James says: ".On the 1st of December, 1793, the 
king's packet Antelope, being off Cumberland harbor, 
in Cuba, on her way to England from Port Royal, 
Jamaica, which port she had quitted three days 
previous, fell in with two French schooner priva- 
teers of formidable appearance. The packet imme- 
diately bore up for Jamaica, and was followed, under 
all sail, by the privateers. The Atalante, one of the 
two, outsailing her consort, continued the chase 
alone. During that and the following day until 4 
p. M., the packet rather gained upon her pursuer; 
but the wind suddenly failing, the latter took to her 
sweeps, and soon swept up alongside of the Antelope. 
After the exchange of a few shots the schooner 
sheered off. On the 2d, at 5 A. M., it still being calm, 
the Atalante again swept up, and on reaching her 
opponent grappled her on the starboard side. The 
privateer then poured in a broadside, and attempted, 
under cover of the smoke, to carry the Antelope by 
boarding; but the crew of the latter drove back the 
assailants with great slaughter. 

" Among the sufferers by the privateer's broad- 
side was the packet's commander, Mr. Curtis, who 
fell to rise no more, as did also the steward and a 

1 For complete list see Maclay's History of the Navy, yol. i, pp. 150, 



French gentleman, a passenger. The first mate, too, 
was shot through the body, but survived. The sec- 
ond mate, having died of the fever soon after the 
packet had sailed from Port Royal, the command 
now devolved upon Mr. Pasco, the boatswain, who, 
with the few brave men left, assisted by the pas- 
sengers, repulsed the repeated attempts to board, 
made at intervals during the long period that the 
vessels remained lashed together. At last, the pri- 
vateersmen, finding they had caught a tartar, cut 
the grapplings and attempted to sheer off. The 
boatswain, observing this, ran aloft, and lashed the 
schooner's square -sail yard to the Antelope's fore 
shrouds. Immediately a well-directed volley of 
small arms was poured into the privateer and the 
crew called for quarter. This was granted, notwith- 
standing the Atalante had fought with the red or 
bloody flag at her masthead, to indicate that no 
quarter would be shown by her, and possession was 
forthwith taken of the prize. 

" The Antelope mounted six 3-pounders, and had 
sailed with twenty-seven hands, but she had lost 
four by the fever and two were ill in their ham- 
mocks; consequently, the packet commenced the ac- 
tion with only twenty-one men exclusive of the pas- 
sengers. Her total loss in the action was three 
killed and four wounded. The Atalante mounted 
eight 3-pounders, and her complement was sixty- 
five men, composed of French, Americans, and Irish. 
Of these the first and second captains and thirty men 
were killed and seventeen officers and men were 
wounded. The Antelope now carried her prize in 
triumph to Annotta Bay, Jamaica, where the two 
vessels arrived on the morning succeeding the action. 
The unparalleled bravery of one of the Antelope's pas- 
sengers, a M. Npdin, formerly a midshipman in the 
French navy, deserves to be recorded. It is related 
of this young man that he stood by the helm and 
worked the ship, armed with a musket and a pike, 


TbAtinporfuanceof an Aft of Congiefc of tfc United State* in thiiob 
provided, paged oh the ninth da7 of July, one thouland feven hundred and tibetytefeht, I have com- 

S* ^^\>^^^^^/^^^^^^^^^^^^^n^ly^ > 

captain, aad 

-VjrA/ ,*M mid the other onlcers and ctew therof to fufedile, faze and take any armed 

Ren&yefla which flufl be found wthin the jurijaiabnaf limits of the Uiated State^ 
onthehighfiai; tod fuch captured vcfcl, with lierappartl, guniandappurtcoincci, indtte^oodjor 
<fi^ which fllall be found on Uari the Cnne, tojethcr with U French perioni and othert, who {hall 
befoundi^ngon fcoard, to- brin^ vithia fonie port of the United States j and allb to retake iy 
vefleligoodiandeflfeaiflf the peopk of the United Stata, which may have beea captored by any 
French aimed veflel; in (ffderthat^roceedingiinaybe Had conceraing fijch capture or recapture in 
doefbrm of W, and as to right and jdHceihall appertain. Thi* connnyEon to continue in force during 
Aepkafitft of the Pwfident of the United States for the time being. 

atPW&lfla, At 


Th* Presidents Utter of mwgue to the privateer Eerald, 
From the original 


which he alternately made use of; that when he 
perceived the Atalante's men climbing the quarters 
of the Antelope he quitted the helm, and with the 
pike dispatched such as came within his reach, re- 
turning at proper intervals to right the vessel; that 
with the pike and musket he killed or disabled sev- 
eral men, and continued his astonishing exertions 
for upward of an hour and a quarter." For this 
defense of the packet the Jamaica House of Assem- 
bly voted five hundred guineas for distribution 
among the men of the Antelope. 

Little or nothing was accomplished by our priva- 
teers in the war with France, owing to the fact that 
the French had only a few merchantmen at that 
time, and these were confined in their ports by the 
rigor of the British blockade. There is an account 
of one action, however, in which the American priva- 
teer Louisa, of Philadelphia, defeated a number of 
French gunboats that came out to attack her off 
Algeciras. After a desultory action of some hours 
a lateen-rigged craft, filled with men, made several 
desperate attempts to carry the Louisa by boarding, 
but was steadily repelled. Toward the close of the 
fight the commander of the Louisa was shot through 
the shoulder, and while his first officer was taking 
him into his cabin, to have the injury attended to, 
the crew, with the exception of the man at the 
wheel, deserted their stations and ran below. Ob- 
serving the confusion in the Louisa, the Frenchmen 
rallied for a final effort, and when the first offi- 
cer came on deck again he found the enemy ap- 
proaching to board. Taking in the situation at a 
glance the quick-witted officer ran to the hatchway 
and called on his men to come on deck and " take 
a last shot at the fleeing Frenchmen. The ruse had 
the desired effect. The sailors hastened to the deck 
and were immediately sent to quarters, and a de- 
structive fire was opened on the enemy, which swept 
away the men who had gathered on her bowsprit 


and forecastle in readiness to spring aboard. Be- 
lieving that the apparent confusion in the American 
was a stratagem to induce them to come to close 
quarters again, the Frenchmen hastened to rejoin 
their discomfited consorts. The Louisa, then con- 
tinued her course to Gibraltar, where she was 
greeted by the throngs who had witnessed the affair 
from the Rock. 

Another action which took place in the French 
war was that between the American privateer 
Herald, Captain Nathaniel Silsbee afterward 
United States Senator from Massachusetts and the 
French privateer La Gloire. The Herald, though 
bearing a letter of marque, had been engaged in a 
trading voyage to India. On November 1, 1800, 
Captain Silsbee left Calcutta, having in com- 
pany the American merchantmen Perseverance, Cap- 
tain Williamson; Cleopatra, Captain Naylor; Grace, 
Captain Davis all of Philadelphia; and the SpUn, 
Captain Brantz, of Baltimore. As it was know that 
several French privateers were cruising in those 
seas it was agreed between the commanders of these 
vessels to sail in company for mutual safety, the 
merchantmen being laden with cargoes invoiced at 
over a million dollars. 

" On the morning of November 3d, at daylight," 
records Captain Silsbee, " two strange sails were dis- 
covered a few leagues to windward of us, one of 
which was soon recognized to be the East India 
Company's packet ship GornwalUs, of eighteen guns, 
which left the river at the same time with us. At 
about 8 A. M. the other ship stood toward the Cornr 
wallis, soon after which the latter bore down upon 
us under full sail, commencing at the same time a 
running fight with the other ship, which then dis- 
played French colors. We soon perceived that they 
were both plying their sweeps very briskly, that the 
Frenchman's grape was making great havoc on the 
Cornwallis, and that the crew of the latter ship had 




cut away her boats and were throwing overboard 

their ballast and other articles for the purpose of 

lightening their ship. The sea was perfectly smooth 

and the wind very light, so much so that it was quite 

midday before either of the ships were within gun- 

shot of us, by which time we (the five American 

ships) were in close line, 

our decks cleared of a large 

stock of poultry which, 

with their coops, could be 

seen for a considerable dis- 

tance round us and every 

preparation made to defend 

ourselves to the extent of 

our ability. But this dis- 

play of resistance on our 

part seemed to be quite dis- 

regarded by the pursuing 

ship, and she continued 

steering for my own ship, 

which was in the center of 

our fleet, until she was fully 

and fairly within gunshot, 

when my own guns were first opened upon her, which 

were instantly followed by those of each and all of 

the other four ships. 

"When the matches were applied to our guns 
the French ship was plying her sweeps, and, with 
studding sails on both sides, coming directly upon 
us. But when the smoke of our guns, caused by re- 
peated broadsides from each of our ships, had so 
passed off as to enable us to see her distinctly, she 
was close upon the wind and going from us. The 
captain of the Cornwallis (which was then within 
hailing distance) expressed a desire to exchange sig- 
nals with us and to keep company while the French 
ship which was known by him to be La Gloire, a 
privateer of twenty-two 9-pounders and four hun- 
dred men was in sight, which request was com- 


plied with; and he having lost all his boats, I went 
on board his ship, where our signals were made 
known to him, and where the captain and officers of 
the CornicalUs acknowledged the protection which 
we had afforded them in the most grateful terms. 
The Cormcallis continued with us two days, in the 
course of which the privateer approached us several 
times in the night, but, finding that we were awake, 
hauled off, and after the second night we saw no 
more of her." 


THE VAE OF 1812. 



WHEN the United States declared war against 
Great Britain, June 18, 1812, our navy consisted of 
only seventeen vessels, carrying four hundred and 
forty-two guns and five thousand men. Of these 
only eight, in the first few months of the war, were 
able to get to sea. At the time hostilities broke 
out no American privateer was in existence; but 
the rapidity with which a great fleet of this class of 
war craft was created and sent to sea forms one 
of the most important and significant episodes in 
American history. At the first sound of war our 
merchants hastened to repeat their marvelous 
achievements on the ocean in the struggle for in- 
dependence. Every available pilot boat, merchant 
craft, coasting vessel, and fishing smack was quickly 
overhauled, mounted with a few guns, and sent out 
with a commission to " burn, sink, and destroy." A 
newspaper under date of July 1, 1812, notes: "The 
people in the Eastern States are laboring almost 
night and day to fit out privateers. Two have 
already sailed from Salem and ten others are get- 
ting ready for sea. This looks well, and does credit 
to our Eastern friends." By the middle of October 
New York had sent out twenty-six privateers, mount- 
ing some three hundred guns and manned by more 
than two thousand men. A Baltimore paper, dated 
July 4, 1812, says: "Several small, swift privateers 
will sail from the United States in a few days. Some 

226 FIRST VENTURES. 1812. 

already have been sent to sea, and many others of a 
larger class, better fitted and better equipped, will 
soon follow." 

Niles, in his Register of July 15, 1812, says: " In 
sixty days, counting the day on which war was de- 
clared, there will be afloat from the United States 
not less than one hundred and fifty privateers, carry- 
ing, on an average, seventy-five men and six guns. 
If they succeed pretty well their number will be 
doubled in a short time. Sixty-five were at sea on 
the 15th inst. Many others are probably out that 
we have not heard of." And this, too, in spite of 
the fact that there were off the coasts of the UnitecJ 
States at that time more than one hundred British 
vessels of war. When we remember that our na- 
tional war ships, at the beginning of the struggle, 
numbered only seventeen vessels, carrying four hun- 
dred and forty-two guns, it will be readily seen that 
one hundred and fifty privateers, carrying about one 
thousand guns and more than ten thousand men, 
was no inconsiderable augmentation of our sea 

It is interesting to note, however, that although 
the first English merchant vessel taken on the high 
seas by the Americans in the war a ship from 
Jamaica bound for London was captured by a 
United States revenue cutter, July 1st, off Cape Hat- 
teras and sent into Norfolk, the first British Govern- 
ment vessel was taken by an American privateer. 
The English schooner Whiting, Lieutenant Maxcey, 
having on board dispatches from the British Gov- 
ernment for Washington, was taken in Hampton 
Eoads, July 10, 1812, by the privateer Dash, Captain 
Carroway, of Baltimore. The privateer was armed 
with one gun and carried a complement of forty 
men. The Whiting carried four guns. The former 
had come down from the Chesapeake prepared for 
a cruise against the enemy, when she found the 
Whitwg lying at anchor in the Roads. At that mo- 


ment Lieutenant Maxcey, being ignorant of the 
existence of hostilities, was in a boat pulling toward 
shore, intending to land at Hampton. Captain 
Carroway seized the boat and then made for the 
schooner. Eunning alongside he called on the offi- 
cer in charge to surrender, which, after several 
papers had been thrown overboard, was done with- 
out opposition. These papers "were said to relate 
to Henry's affair." 1 

As the seizure of the Whiting .was clearly unfair, 
the Government ordered her to be returned. " On 
Wednesday last [August 12, 1812] His Britannic 
Majesty's schooner Whiting, Lieutenant Maxcey 
detained by the Dash privateer was conducted to 
Hampton Eoads by the revenue cutter Gallatin, Cap- 
tain Edward Herbert. The crew of the Whiting was 
given in charge to Captain Herbert, with orders to 
deliver them up to their commander at the very 
place where they had been taken, which was done, 
and Lieutenant Maxcey was then ordered to quit 
the waters of the United States with all possible 
speed." 2 

About the time the Whiting was captured, Cap- 
tain J. Gold, of the 8-gun privateer schooner Cora, of 
Baltimore, captured another English dispatch boat, 
the Bloodhound, and carried her into Annapolis. The 
Bloodhound also was released by our Government; 
" but she will find some difficulty," remarks a con- 
temporary newspaper, "in working her passage 
home, the greater part of her crew having been car- 
ried on shore as prisoners, refusing their liberty, 
have claimed the protection of the soil, and pre- 
ferred to reside among us. It is stated that the crew 
of the Whiting also have absolutely refused to go 
on board that vessel again, and that we have no 
law, if we had the will, to compel them." Among 

' Norfolk Ledger, July 10, 1812. 
* Norfolk Herald, August 14, 

228 FIRST VENTURES. 1812-1818. 

the crew of the Bloodhound, several gentlemen at 
Annapolis recognized an American who had been 
impressed three years before. He was restored to 
his country. We learn that several of the British 
sailors, panting for revenge, have already enlisted 
in the United States service, or entered on board 
our privateers." Aside from her capture of the 
Bloodhound, the career of the Cora was uneventful. 
She was captured in Chesapeake Bay by the Brit- 
ish squadron in February, 1813, four of her men 
escaping in a boat to the shore. The Dash's useful- 
ness also seems to have been limited to the capture 
of the Whiting, no other seizures being credited to 

Many of the first privateers to get to sea were 
small pilot boats, mounting one long torn amidships, 
with several smaller guns, and carrying a crew of 
fifty to sixty men, whose chief dependence in battle 
was on muskets, sabers, and boarding pikes. These 
vessels, as a rule, were intended merely for short 
cruises in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off Nova Scotia, 
Newfoundland, and among the West India Islands. 
At that time they were sufficiently formidable to 
capture the average British merchantman, but as 
the war progressed the great increase in armaments 
and complements of English trading vessels made 
our smaller privateers almost impotent. As soon 
as it was known that war had been declared a swift 
pilot boat hastened across the Atlantic to Gotten- 
borg, and gave warning to all American merchant- 
men then in the ports of Sweden, Denmark, Prussia, 
and Russia. In this way a large number of our mer- 
chant craft were saved from capture, those that did 
venture out being fast-sailing vessels that could 
easily outsail the average British cruiser, or letter 
of marque. 

Among the first pilot-boat privateers to get to 
sea were the Black Joke, Captain B. Erenow, and 
Jack's Favorite, Captain Johnson, both of New York. 


The first, a sloop of five guns and sixty men, brought 
in two small prizes. Jack's Favorite was more suc- 
cessful, that vessel returning to New York early in 
July, 1812, having taken the schooner Rebecca, laden 
with sugar and molasses from Trinidad for Hali- 
fax, which was sent into New London; the brig 
Betsey, taken two hundred and fifty miles west of 
Eock of Lisbon, with a full cargo of wine and raisins 
from Malaga for St. Petersburg valued at seventy- 
five thousand dollars, which arrived at Plymouth, 
Massachusetts, safely; and three sloops that were 
destroyed at sea. The Jack's Favorite, like the Black 
Joke, carried five guns and a crew of eighty men. 

At the time the Jack's Favorite and the Black Joke 
were operating against British commerce, the priva- 
teers Rapid, of Portland, the Dolphin, the Jefferson, 
the Lion, the SnoivUrd, and the Fair Trader, all of 
Salem, were cruising on the high seas. The first 
had, at different times, two commanders, the first 
being Captain W. Crabtree, and the second Captain 
J. Weeks. The Rapid took one ship and two brigs. 
The ship was the Experience, her cargo being valued 
at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. One of 
the brigs was ransomed, and the other, the St. An- 
drews, of eight guns, for Bristol, England, in bal- 
last, was sent into Portland. The Rapid also had 
an action with a British privateer, the schooner 
Searcher, mounting one gun and having a comple- 
ment of twenty men. The Rapid was a brig carrying 
fourteen guns and eighty-four men. The Searcher 
was taken without difficulty and burned. Soon 
afterward the Rapid's career was cut short by the 
British frigates Maidstone and Spartan, which on Oc- 
tober 17, 1812, captured her after a chase of eleven 
hours, during which the Americans had thrown over- 
board all their guns, boats, and every movable arti- 
cle in a vain endeavor to escape. The Rapid, how- 
ever, had paid for herself many times over. 

The privateers Dolphin and Jefferson, the latter 

230 FIRST VENTURES. 1812. 

commanded by Captain J. Downer, and carrying two 
guns and forty men, also sent into Salem a brig, four 
schooners, and a shallop laden with dry goods. In 
all the Jefferson took one brig, four schooners, and 
one sloop. The Jefferson was a schooner carrying 
two guns and forty men, while the Dolphin is cred- 
ited with one gun and twenty men. 

In July, 1812, three Nova Scotia shallops arrived 
in Marblehead as prizes of the privateer Lion, Cap- 
tain J. Hitch, of Salem. The Lion was a sloop carry- 
ing two guns and twenty men. With the assistance 
of the armed schooner Snowbird, Captain S. Stacy, 
the Lion also captured five English brigs from Liver- 
pool bound for St. John's. One brig taken by the 
Lion and Snowbird carried six guns, but made no 
resistance. The Lion is credited in this war with 
having taken in all one brig, two schooners, and 
three sloops. 

Although carrying only one gun and a crew of 
twenty-five men, the armed schooner Fair Trader, 
Captain J. Morgan, performed more valuable serv- 
ices than any of the foregoing privateers. Getting 
to sea at the outbreak of hostilities Captain Mor- 
gan, in one cruise, took three schooners: one having 
a cargo of beef, flour, fish, etc.; another being laden 
with gin and tobacco for St. Andrews; and the third 
with lumber on deck. After seizing these vessels 
the Fair Trader fell in with the British ship Jarrett, 
Captain Eichard Jacobs, from Bristol, England, for 
St. Andrews, in ballast. She was a fine craft of four 
hundred tons burden, carrying two 6-pounders and 
eighteen men. At this time the privateer's comple- 
ment had been reduced through manning her pre- 
vious prizes to fifteen men. Notwithstanding his 
short-handed condition Captain Morgan boldly ran 
under the Jarrett's stern and demanded her sur- 
render, at the same time discharging his single gun. 
It seems that of the Jarrett's eighteen men four were 
Americans, and on their making out the privateer 


to be an American they left their stations and re- 
fused to fight. Captain Jacobs decided to surrender, 
the four Americans enlisting in the Fair Trader. 
This privateer took in all one ship, one brig, and five 
schooners; but on July 16, 1812, while in the Bay of 
Fundy, a few days after sending the Jarrett safely 
into Salem, she was chased by the 18-gun brig of 
war Indian, Captain Jane, and was captured. Later 
in the war another privateer, pierced for eighteen 
guns, was built under the same name, but that also 
fell into the hands of the enemy and was destroyed 
in Buzzards Bay. 

But the loss of the first Fair Trader had been 
avenged in advance, two days before her capture by 
the Indian, when that cruiser attempted to capture 
the privateer schooner Polly. That much advantage 
was gained by privateers sailing in couples is shown 
in the cruise of this vessel and the 2-gun schooner 
Madison, of fifty men, Captain D. Elwell. The Polly 
carried five guns and fifty-seven men, under the com- 
mand of Captain T. Handy, both of Salem. They got 
to sea early in the war. Their first success was the 
seizure of a valuable transport by a clever strata- 
gem. These two privateers were cruising in com- 
pany on July 14, 1812, when they gave chase to two 
vessels which they took to be merchantmen. It was 
not until they were nearly within gunshot that one of 
the strangers was discovered to be an 18-gun brig 
of war carrying in all twenty-two guns. She was, in 
fact, the Indian, which only two days after destroyed 
the Fair Trader. Captain Jane promptly stood for 
the privateers under a press of sail. 

The American vessels separated, the cruiser 
selecting the Polly and giving her a hard chase. 
While the brig of war was almost within gunshot it 
fell calm and the Englishmen got out their launch 
and longboat, with forty men, and pulled toward the 
Polly. When within musket shot the British crew 
gave three cheers, and opening a brisk fire of small 

232 FIEST VENTURES. 1813-1814. 

arms, and from their 4-pounder, dashed toward the 
privateer. This was the signal for the Americans to 
open, and for a few minutes the water in the vicinity 
of the launch was whipped into froth by musket balls 
and langrage. In a short time the launch surren- 
dered, while the other boat made a hasty retreat. 
Captain Handy was unable to take possession of the 
launch, however, for the cruiser was dangerously 
near, so he seized this opportunity to man his sweeps 
and thus made his escape. But the Americans had 
the satisfaction of noting that when the launch ad- 
vanced to the attack she showed sixteen sweeps, 
while on her retreat only five were seen. About this 
time the Polly captured the schooner Eliza, of Hali- 
fax, for Jamaica, and sent her into Salem. Before 
returning to port Captain Handy took the sloop 
Endeavor, Captain Newman, from Bermuda for New- 
foundland, laden with sugar, and sent her into 
Salem. Another prize credited to this privateer was 
the brig President, laden with molasses, which was 
sent into Savannah, October, 1813. On April 10, 
1814, the Polly was captured by the 16-gun brig of 
war Barbadoes off San Domingo after a chase of sixty 

By the time the Polly had beaten off the Indian's 
boats the Madison was not in sight, Captain Elwell 
having made all speed for the brig that had been 
in the cruiser's company. He had little trouble in 
taking her. She was found to be the British Gov- 
ernment transport No. 50, a fine brig of two hundred 
and ninety tons, mounting two guns and manned by 
twelve men. She was from Halifax for St. John's, 
and had on board one hundred casks of gunpowder, 
eight hundred and eighty suits of uniform for the 
One Hundred and Fourth Light Infantry, some bales 
of cloth for officers' uniforms, ten casks of wine, be- 
sides drums, trumpets, and other camp equipage, 
the entire cargo being computed to be worth some 
fifty thousand dollars. 


Before reaching port the Madison captured, after 
a sharp engagement, the brig Eliza, carrying six 
guns to the privateer's two. The Americans had 
two men wounded, while the master of the prize was 
badly injured. Putting into Eastport, Maine, with 
a prize, a schooner, and another privateer, the Madi- 
son, on August 3, 1812, fell in with the 38-gun 
frigate Spartan, Captain Brenton, and the 32-gun 
frigate Maidstone. Anticipating trouble, Captain El- 
well had moved to a point about six miles below 
Eastport, and running close inshore landed his 
men and guns and erected a battery. Scarcely had 
this been done when six boats, full of men from 
the cruisers, were discovered approaching. When 
within range the privateersmen opened a heavy fire, 
which was returned. After sustaining a loss of 
twenty or thirty killed or wounded the enemy re- 
treated. On the following day they renewed the 
attack with overpowering forces, and this time suc- 
ceeded in taking the privateer and her prize, the 
privateersmen escaping into the woods. Not one of 
the Americans was injured in the first attack, but 
several casualties were reported in the second day's 
fight. The Madison had taken in all four ships, three 
brigs, and a schooner. 

Four days after the action between the Polly and 
the Indian's boats the American privateer Falcon, 
Captain George Wilson, had a running fight with 
the British cutter Hero. The Falcon was making the 
voyage from Boston to Bordeaux, and on July 18, 
1812, while off the coast of France, she fell in with 
the Hero, carrying five guns and fifty men. The 
American mounted four guns and had a complement 
of only sixteen men. After a fight lasting two hours 
and a half Captain Wilson compelled the cutter to 
haul off, the enemy having made three unsuccess- 
ful attempts to board. On the following day Cap- 
tain Wilson, while engaged in repairing his consid- 
erable injuries, was attacked by a British privateer 

234: FIRST VENTURES. 1812. 

carrying six guns and forty men. The Americans 
made another gallant fight, and for an hour and a 
half kept the privateer off, but after Captain Wilson 
and several of his men had been wounded the Falcon 
was carried by boarding, though with her colors 
flying. She was taken into Guernsey, where the 
wounded were sent ashore. 

About the same time the privateer Gypsey, of 
New York, also making for Bordeaux, was seized 
by a British cruiser. The Englishmen placed a prize 
crew aboard the Gypsey, and ordered her to a British 
port. Scarcely had the cruiser separated from her 
prize, however, when the Americans hit upon a plan 
for recapturing the schooner. Seizing a favorable 
opportunity they rose on their captors and carried 
the vessel into a French port. 

The Wile Renard at first commissioned as the 
" Wiley Reynard, of one gun " was a Boston schooner 
hastily prepared for private enterprise on the high 
seas. She made a short but successful cruise early 
in the war, taking in all three ships, two brigs, and 
four schooners, all of which reached port in safety. 
Among her prizes was the schooner Sally, from Syd- 
ney, Nova Scotia, which got safely into Boston, Au- 
gust 5, 1812. In her second venture the Wile Renard 
was captured, October 4, 1812, by the 38-gun frigate 
Shannon, Captain Philip Bowes Vere Broke. 

Less successful than the Wile Renard was the 6- 
gun sloop Gleaner sometimes called the " Gleaner 
packet "Captain N. Lord. She was from Kenne- 
bunk, Maine, with a complement of forty men, and 
was captured on her maiden cruise, July 23, 1812, 
when off Cape Sable, by the 18-gun brig of war 
Golibri, Captain Thompson. Three days later the 
Colibri took the privateer Catherine, of fourteen guns 
and eighty-eight men, Captain F. Burham, of Boston. 
The Catherine was cruising off Cape Sable and had 
captured one bark, when she fell into the clutches 
of the cruiser. Captain Burham resisted for an hour 


and a half, and did not surrender until his boatswain 
had been killed and his first officer and several men 
had been wounded. The British had six men killed 
and a number wounded. 

About this time the 5-gun schooner Nancy, Cap- 
tain E. Smart, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, car- 
rying forty men, made a prize of the British ship 
Resolution, laden with flour. She was sent into Ports- 

The fortunes of war were well illustrated in the 
cases of the American privateers Gossamer and Cur- 
leiv and the British brig of war Emulous, Captain 
Mule aster. The Gossamer was a 14-gun privateer of 
Salem, commanded by Captain C. Goodrich, and was 
one of the largest privateers sent out of Boston in 
1812, she having a complement of one hundred men. 
Her first and only prize was the ship Ann Green, from 
Jamaica for Quebec, which was taken into Boston. 
The prize was armed with eight 12-pounders and two 
long 6-pounders, a very formidable armament for a 
merchantman at that time. Part of her cargo con- 
sisted of one hundred hogsheads of rum, and the 
entire " catch " netted her captors forty thousand 

A few days later, July 30th, the Gossamer's career 
was cut short by the British 18-gun brig of war 
Emulous, which made easy capture of the privateer 
off Cape Sable. The Emulous had not long been in 
possession of her prize, however, when the cruiser 
was lost on Ragged Island, near the scene of the 
Gossamer's capture. Though the officers and crew 
of the cruiser were now without a ship, fortune soon 
placed at their disposal another craft, to which they 
transferred their quarters. It seems that six days 
before the Emulous took the Gossamer the British 
frigate Acasta, Captain Kerr, while in a dense fog, 
had drifted alongside of the fine American priva- 
teer brig Curlew, of Boston. It was not until the 
fog had lifted that Captain William Wyer, of the 

236 FIEST VBNTUBBS. 1812-1813. 

privateer, discovered the undesirable proximity of 
the frigate, and being politely requested to sur- 
render did so with all the grace possible under the 
circumstances. The Curlew carried sixteen guns and 
a complement of one hundred and seventy-two men, 
and being in every way as good a vessel, and almost 
of the same size as the Emulous, the officers and 
crew of the unlucky war brig were transferred to 
her, and they continued to cruise after the mis- 
chievous Yankees. On May 2d of the following year 
the Curlew, then under the command of Captain 
Michael Head, had a narrow escape from Captain 
John Rodgers, then cruising in the 44-gun frigate 
President. As it was the Curlew showed a " clean 
pair of heels," and kept up the reputation of Ameri- 
can shipbuilders by outsailing the frigate. 

Two days after the inhabitants of Gloucester, 
Massachusetts, had celebrated the "Glorious 
Fourth" of 1812 there appeared in the harbor of 
that town a brig which had slowly worked her way 
into the Roads with two flags flying at half-mast, 
one American and the other English. This singu- 
lar apparition attracted the attention of the towns- 
folk, who gathered at the wharf awaiting an ex- 
planation. Soon a boat came ashore announcing 
that the brig was the American merchantman Pick- 
ering, Captain Davis, from Gibraltar, which had been 
taken only a few days before by the British 36-gun 
frigate Belvidera, Captain Richard Byron. That 
frigate had just made her escape from Captain Rodg- 
ers' squadron, and falling in with the Pickering 
took her. Captain Byron, after placing a prize mas- 
ter and eight men aboard the Pickering, with orders 
to make for Halifax, continued his cruise. 

^ When the merchantman * had come within six 
miles of her port, the Americans, with the assistance 
of four passengers, overpowered the prize crew and 
carried the Pickering into Gloucester. The British 
prisoners " spoke very unfavorably of Captain Rodo-- 


ers. The Belvidera was much shattered in her 
stern and lost one topmast. She had one man killed 
and one wounded, who died." 1 The singular cir- 
cumstance of the Pickering coming into port with 
American and English flags at half-mast is explained 
in another account, which says: "When the prison- 
ers were landed the flags of the two vessels, belong- 
ing to a wretch born in the United States, but never- 
theless not an American, were hoisted half-mast 
high to show his regret that certain citizens had 
recovered their property from the subjects of his 
king." It is claimed that the Pickering had sixty 
thousand dollars on board, which the officers of the 
Belvidera did not discover. 

Another instance of an American ship being re- 
captured by her own people was that of the brig 
Nerina, Captain Stewart, which arrived in New Lon- 
don, August 4, 1812. This recapture was the result 
of a stratagem practiced by the long-headed Yankee 
commander. The Nerina had sailed from Newry, Ire- 
land, before it was known that war existed between 
the United States and Great Britain. When off the 
American coast the Nerina was seized by a British 
cruiser, and all her men, with the exception of Cap- 
tain Stewart, were taken aboard the man-of-war. A 
prize crew was then placed in the merchantman and 
ordered to make for Halifax. Believing that Captain 
Stewart was the only prisoner aboard, the English 
prize master relaxed his vigilance. It seems, how- 
ever, that there were some fifty American passengers 
in the brig, and when it was seen that they must be 
captured Captain Stewart induced the passengers 
to conceal themselves in the hold, promising their 
release as soon as the cruiser was out of sight. 
Scarcely had the man-of-war disappeared below the 
horizon when the Yankee skipper innocently sug- 
gested to the British prize master the propriety of 

1 Private letter, dated Salem, Julj 6, 1812. 

238 FIRST VENTURES. 1812-1813. 

opening the hatches, "as the hold needed airing." 
The suggestion was promptly adopted, and much to 
the surprise of the captors fifty men sprang on 
deck, overpowered the unsuspecting prize crew, and 
brought the ship into New London. 

The armed schooner Paul Jones, of sixteen guns 
and one hundred and twenty men, Captain J. Hazard 
(afterward commanded by Captain A. Taylor), of 
New York, captured the English brig Ulysses, from 
the West Indies bound for Halifax, and sent her 
into Norfolk. Later in the war (May 23, 1813) the 
Paul Jones took the Leonidas after a hard chase, in 
which five of the eighty-five Americans were wound- 
ed. In all, this vessel captured six ships, seven 
brigs, and two sloops. The Paul Jones sailed on her 
second cruise early in January, 1813. On January 
7th she captured the ship Beaton, of twelve 6-pound- 
ers, laden with flour, from San Salvador for Lisbon. 
On the 25th she recaptured the American brig Little 
James, besides the following valuable prizes: St. 
Martin's Planter, of twelve guns, from Malta for 
London; the transport Canada, of ten guns, and hav- 
ing on board one hundred soldiers and forty-two 
horses; 1 the Quebec, from London for Gibraltar, of 
twelve guns, and laden with seven hundred and fifty 
packages of drygoods. The Canada was ransomed 
for three thousand pounds, after the troops had been 
disarmed. On February 27th the Paul Jones cap- 
tured the sloop Pearl, of London, for St. Michael's, 
laden with fruit; the brig Return, of London; the 
brig John and Isabella, of Berwick-on-Tweed; and the 
brig London Packet, of six guns. The John and Isa- 
bella was given up as a cartel for the prisoners. 

On the evening of July 9, 1812, the armed 
schooner Fame, Captain William Webb, of Salem, 
entered that port after having captured an English 
ship of about three hundred tons burden, laden with 

1 Log book of the Paul Jones. 

1812. CAREER OF THE FAME. 239 

lumber, and a brig of two hundred tons, laden with 
tar. The ship was armed with two 4-pounders, but 
was unable to make use of them, as the Americans 
boarded her unexpectedly. The Fame was a small 
vessel of only thirty tons, carrying one gun and a 
crew of twenty men. She was an old craft, having 
been used as a privateer in the Kevolution. Perhaps 
this vessel won her greatest distinction in her next 
voyage, in which she took several vessels having a 
singular series of names. Under the command of 
Captain Green she returned to Boston, October 11, 
3812, from a highly successful cruise of only fifteen 
days, in which time she had captured five vessels, 
all schooners, one of them bearing the name Four 
Sons, from the Bay of Chaleur, laden with fish and 
furs; another, called the Four Brothers, from the 
West Indies for Newfoundland; and a third, named 
the Three Sisters. The other two prizes were the 
Betsey Ann, laden with sugar, from the West Indies, 
taken in sight of Halifax harbor, and the Delight, 
from Bermuda for Halifax, laden with wine and 
silks, which was sent into Machias. All these prizes 
reached port. 

The privateer sloop Science, carrying five guns 
and fifty-two men, under the command of Captain 
W. Fernald, sailed from Portsmouth, New Hamp- 
shire, August 12, 1812, in company with the armed 
schooner Thomas, Captain T. Shaw, of twelve guns 
and eighty men. The Science was captured when 
thirteen days out by the omnipresent Emulous. The 
Thomas took three ships, one brig, and one schooner, 
with a total valuation of six hundred thousand dol- 
lars. One of these ships, the Dromo, mounted twelve 
guns, and 'two of them carried fourteen each, but 
had for complements only twenty-five and thirty 
men respectively. The Dromo was from Liverpool for 
Halifax, and had a cargo invoiced at seventy thou- 
sand pounds sterling. She was sent into Wiscasset. 
Sailing again, September 23, 1813, the Thomas, when 

240 FIRST VENTURES. 1812. 

six days out, was captured off Cape North by the 32- 
gun frigate Nymph, after a chase of thirty-four 
hours, in which eight of the privateer's guns were 
thrown overboard. 

The ship (or schooner, by some accounts) Or- 
lando, of two hundred and eighteen tons, eight guns, 
and seventy-five men, Captain J. Babson, returned 
to Gloucester, August 28, 1812, after a successful 
cruise, in which she had taken two brigs, one 
schooner, and one sloop. 

On July 23, 1812, the schooner Dolphin, Captain 
Endicott, of Salem, returned to port after a venture 
of twenty days on the sea. She had been chased 
several times by British cruisers, but always es- 
caped. Captain Endicott took six prizes, and 
treated his prisoners with such kindness that when, 
on one occasion, he was for twenty-four hours 
hard pressed by an English frigate, the prisoners 
gave a willing hand in manning the boats and 
assisted in towing the privateer out of gunshot. 
They declared that they would much rather go to 
America than enter a British man-of-war. Some 
of the Dolphin's prizes were the ship Wabisch, laden 
with timber, the brig Antelope, and the ship Empress, 
which were sent into port; a schooner (name not 
given), which was released for one hundred thou- 
sand dollars in specie and a quantity of beaver skins; 
a brig of twelve guns, with an assorted cargo from 
St. Michael, which was sent into New London; the 
schooner Ann Kelly, of Halifax, with a miscellane- 
ous cargo; the brig St. Andrews, bound for England; 
the ship Mary, from Bristol, England, for St. John's, 
carrying fourteen guns and having a considerable 
quantity of arms and ammunition on board; the 
ship Venus, an American vessel, with English prop- 
erty on board valued at sixty thousand dollars; and 
the schooner Jane, from the West Indies for Halifax, 
sent into Marblehead. After this highly successful 
cruise the Dolphin got to sea again, but on August 


12, 1812, she was captured by the enemy. Another 
Dolphin, according to British accounts, was captured 
by the ColwnUa, December 4, 1812. 

In the first eight weeks of the war the British 
captured one of our Government vessels, the Nau- 
tilus, thirteen privateers, fifteen ships, fourteen 
brigs, ten schooners, and one sloop. In the same 
time our Government cruisers took eight merchant- 
men, while our privateers seized one British Govern- 
ment craft, besides nearly one hundred vessels. The 
Essex Register records thirty-seven prizes of priva- 
teers which sailed from Salem, Gloucester, and 




ONE of the first services required of our sea forces 
in the War of 1812 was the suppression of the illicit 
trade that sprang up between the United States and 
the British armies in Spain. At the time war was 
declared Great Britain was operating extensively 
against the French on the Iberian Peninsula, and 
depended largely on America for provisions. High 
prices for such supplies tempted many of our mer- 
chants not only to run the risk of capture and con- 
fiscation of their cargoes, but to brave the odium 
of their fellow-countrymen. Many cargoes were 
sent from the ports of the United States to Halifax 
and thence to Spain, and though some of them got 
safely to their destination, yet the vigilance of our 
cruisers and privateersmen caused the seizure of a 
large number. In September, 1813, seventeen thou- 
sand barrels of flour arrived from our ports in Hali- 
fax. In November of the same year a sloop arrived 
in Boston ostensibly from Kennebunk, but on in- 
vestigation it was shown that she came from Hali- 
fax. The sloop was seized by the customhouse offi- 
cers and two men were placed aboard as a guard. 
On the night of November 17th a number of men 
suddenly took possession of the craft, and, securing 
the guard with ropes, removed the cargo. 

This illicit trade was early brought to the atten- 
tion of the public by a capture made by the little 
2-gun American schooner Teazer, manned by fifty 



men. This vessel recaptured the fine, newly cop- 
pered American ship Margaret, which had been taken 
by the British war schooner Plumper, Captain Bray. 
The Margaret had sailed from Liverpool before it was 
known that war between the United States and Eng- 
land had broken out. She was laden with a valu- 
able cargo of earthenware and ironmongery, besides 
having on board thirteen thousand bushels of salt, 
the ship and cargo being worth fifty thousand dol- 
lars. On falling in with the Plumper, a British prize 
master and twelve men were placed in charge of 
the Margaret, with orders to make for Halifax. 

Captain Bray seems to have followed a practice 
which was largely indulged in early in the war by 
British commanders on the North American station. 
In order to evade the embargo a number of Ameri- 
can vessels hastened to Lisbon with cargoes of pro- 
visions for the allied British and Spanish armies, 
which were sold at great profit. As these provi- 
sions, at that time,, were very difficult to get in Eu- 
rope, the British encouraged American merchants 
by issuing " British licenses " to all American ves- 
sels engaged in this trade whose masters were 
" well inclined toward British interests," by which 
such craft were exempt from seizure by British 
cruisers or privateers; notwithstanding the fact 
that the two countries were at war. A considerable 
fee was charged for the protection. It was deemed 
unpatriotic for Americans to avail themselves of 
such licenses, but nevertheless a number of our mer- 
chants made the venture, while others sent cargoes 
without the protection of licenses. British cruisers 
were especially watchful for the latter class, and in 
some instances did not scruple to seize the cash in 
vessels returning from the Peninsula with a British 
license. An American paper of 1813 notes that " fif- 
teen or twenty semi-American vessels with British 
licenses have been condemned at Bermuda. A grand 
double speculation of the enemy; in first selling the 


licenses, and then making good prizes of those that 
had them!" 

The commander of the Plumper was particularly 
successful in this line of work. He took from eight 
to ten of our merchantmen. From one of them he 
helped himself to two thousand one hundred dollars 
in specie, from another two thousand three hundred 
dollars, and from a third five thousand three hun- 
dred dollars. In almost every case vessels despoiled 
in this way were allowed to proceed after being 
relieved of their cash, possibly in the hope that their 
owners might renew the venture. Even larger 
amounts of specie are recorded as having been taken 
from such American traders. The Maria, of New 
York, for instance, was stopped by the Vixen and 
relieved of thirty thousand dollars; the Nautilus, 
from Oporto, was fleeced of twelve thousand dollars 
by the frigate Spartan, which also took the same 
amount out of the Hiram, from Lisbon; seven thou- 
sand dollars from the brig Jew, and twelve thou- 
sand dollars from the brig Mary. The frigate Melam- 
pus took thirty-two thousand dollars out of one 
ship, and twenty-two thousand dollars were taken 
in the Cordelia by the Emulous. Notwithstanding 
these seizures, some five million dollars arrived in 
American ports from Lisbon during the first six 
weeks of the war. How much the British naval 
commander respected these licenses is shown in the 
following extract from a contemporary newspaper: 
" May 22, 1813. The ship Action, of and for Boston 
from Cadiz, though protected by a 'real genuine 
Prince Regent's license/ was captured off our coast 
by the 74-gun ship of the line La Hague. Her cap- 
tain, the ' honorable ' Thomas Blanden Capel, plun- 
dered the brig Charles, also with a license, and would 
have burnt her, but thought it best to give her up 
to get rid of his prisoners, and she has arrived at 
Boston. He said he was determined to destroy 
every vessel that had a license, and if his Govern- 


ment would not put a stop to the use of them, the 
navy should do it." 

Judge Story, of the United States Circuit Court, 
sitting at Boston, June, 1813, in an elaborate opin- 
ion, decreed the condemnation of an American ves- 
sel sailing under a British license on the general 
principle of being denaturalized by the acceptance 
of the license. About the same time Judge Croke, 
of Halifax, adjudged, in the case of the brig Orion, 
Captain Jubin, from New York bound for Lisbon, 
with a license and captured by the British block- 
ading vessels and sent into Halifax, that the vessel 
and cargo be restored to her owner; "that the 
license having been granted previous to the block- 
ade, it protected her and all vessels from condemna- 
tion with such a license, although they should be 
captured departing from such blockaded ports in 
the United States." 

This peculiar weakness of British naval com- 
manders on the North American station namely, 
that of taking all the cash out of a prize and allow- 
ing the vessel itself, with her cargo, to depart in 
peace has an explanation from one of the com- 
manders himself which is almost as singular as the 
practice. When the Margaret was recaptured by the 
Teaser, as just narrated, two letters were found 
aboard her written by Captain Bray. The free-and- 
easy commander of the Plumper, in one of these let- 
ters, refreshingly explains his penchant for ready 
cash as follows: "Finding some few dollars in the 
brig [one of his quasi prizes] which I have taken, 
I thought it more wise to take them out, as there is 
no difficulty in sharing them, and our people are 
very poor, some of them having had no money for 
these nine years past." In the light of Captain 
Bray's statement, that " some of them [the English 
sailors] having had no money for these nine years," 
we can readily believe the statement published in 
a Baltimore paper under date of April 10, 1813: " A 


number of British seamen, from thirty to fifty, have 
lately escaped from the [British blockading] squad- 
ron. One poor fellow had not been on shore for 
thirteen years, during which time he had never re- 
ceived one cent of pay or prize money." Some of the 
other prizes made by the Teaser were the brig Ann, 
which was sent in, and the brig Peter, from New- 
castle for Halifax, with a full cargo of British mer- 
chandise, which arrived safely in Portland in the 
latter part of August, 1812. In all the Teazer cap- 
tured two ships, six brigs, and six schooners, all but 
one reaching port. 1 

On July 29, 1813, the President ordered all our 
navy officers to exercise the greatest vigilance in 
capturing American vessels engaged, or suspected 
of being engaged, in carrying provisions to the 
enemy. On August 5, 1813, the Secretary of War 
directed that " all officers of the army of the United 
States commanding districts, forts, or fortresses are 
commanded to turn back, and, in case of any attempt 
to evade this order, to detain all vessels, or river or 
bay craft, which may be suspected of proceeding to 
or communicating with, any station, vessel, squad- 
ron, or fleet of the enemy within the waters of the 
United States." 2 In September, 1813, the Ameri- 
cans fitted out the three-masted vessel Timothy Pick- 
ering at Gloucester to cruise after "licensed ves- 

Another instance of the respect with which Eng- 
lish officers treated American vessels protected by 
British licenses is had in the following account pub- 
lished in a Boston paper August 4, 1813: " The ship 
Fair American, Captain Weathers, which arrived 
here Monday from Lisbon, was boarded on the 26th 
of July in latitude 42, longitude 64 from his Bri- 
tannic Majesty's frigate Maidstone, Captain Burdett, 

1 For the subsequent remarkable career of the Teazer, see preface. 
9 C. K Gardner, assistant adjutant-general. 


after a chase of seventeen hours, and the following 
particulars respecting the infamous treatment re- 
ceived from Captain Burdett were noted by the pas- 
sengers, and are published at their request: 'At 
nine o'clock in the morning we were brought to and 
hailed by Captain Burdett, who stood in the main 
rigging, as follows: "Where are you from?" An- 
swer, " From Lisbon." " Why did you not heave to 
and not run me so far out of my way?" Answer, 
"I understood there was a French squadron out, and 
I thought you might have been one of them." To 
which Burdett replied, "You have heard no such 
thing, sir. You are a liar you are a damned liar, 
sir and your country are a damned set of liars 
you are a nation of liars!" and repeated the same 
several times over. He then continued, " I will cut 
your cabin to pieces. Lower your topsail down, sir! 
Get a bag of dollars ready to pay for the shot I have 
hove at you they were the king's shot, sir. You are 
&n enemy, sir " (twice repeated), " for you have no 
license from my Government, sir, or you would not 
have run away from me." He then repeated over 
several of the above blackguard expressions, and 
ordered Captain Weathers to come on board with 
his papers, which he complied with, and while there 
was grossly insulted with the foulest language.' " 

"The brig Despatch," records a contemporary 
periodical, " a licensed vessel belonging to Boston, 
was captured on the coast by the privateer Casti- 
gator, regularly commissioned, of Salem. News of 
the incident having reached the owners of the Des- 
patch, they fitted out two boats and filled them with 
about fifty armed men for the avowed purpose of 
retaking the brig, then in the bay. Anticipating 
this attack, the people in the privateer sent aboard 
the Despatch a quantity of arms and ammunition to 
the prize master and his crew, with instructions 
to resist to the last. The boats approached. They 
were warned to keep off, but, persisting in closing, 


a hot fire was opened on both sides. By making a 
dash the men in the boats succeeded in recapturing 
the Despatch, and, confining the prize master and his 
men in the hold, made sail for Boston. On entering 
the harbor the brig was stopped by a shot from the 
fort, taken possession of by the garrison and turned 
over to the customhouse officers. She was then 
libelled by the owners of the privateers. The leaders 
in the recapture were arrested and examined before 
Judge Davis, of the United States District Court." 
" Their counsel," says the Boston Chronicle, " first 
endeavored to soften the affair into a riot, and sec- 
ondly to show that, as the alleged offense was com- 
mitted within the county of Suffolk, that the United 
States district courts had no jurisdiction over the 
case. Without attending much to the first, as being 
of little consequence at the time, the judge of course 
repelled the latter plea and held the parties to bail. 
After the defendants had been recognized, inquiry 
being made for the witnesses who had testified on 
behalf of the United States, that they might be 
recognized, as usual, information was given that 
some of them had during the trial been arrested by 
the State authorities to answer for their conduct 
before the State courts. The honorable judge ex- 
pressed a strong disapprobation of such a hasty pro- 
cedure, and observed that it was by no means the 
mode of ascertaining and deciding the rights of the 
parties in that stage. The privateersmen were held 
under recognizance by the State courts." One of 
these men proved to be an " alien enemy," and was 
seized by a marshal and lodged in the guard ship to 
the end of the war. The Oastigator also took the 
Liverpool Packet, Captain Richards, from Lisbon for 
Boston, but the prize was released. 

In the first few weeks of the war several prizes 
were made by our revenue cutters. The Madison, 
Saptain George Brooks, returned to Savannah, July 
24, 1812, with a British snow mounting six guns, 6- 


and 9-pounders, and manned by fourteen men. She 
was from Liverpool, making for Amelia Island, and 
had a quantity of small arms and ammunition 
aboard. The Madison also took the 300-ton brig 
Shamrock, carrying six guns and sixteen men, which 
was sent into Savannah. The revenue cutter Gal- 
latin, Captain Edward Herbert, took the brig Gen- 
eral Blake, August 10, 1812, while sailing under Span- 
ish colors, and sent her into Charleston. 1 A few 
months later, or on April 1, 1813, the Gallatin, then 
commanded by Captain John H. Silliman, was de- 
stroyed by an explosion of her magazine while lying 
in Charleston harbor, South Carolina. The cutter 
had arrived only the day before from a short cruise 
down the coast and had anchored off the town. Soon 
afterward Captain Silliman w,ent ashore, leaving 
orders for all the muskets and pistols which were 
kept in the cabin to be thoroughly cleaned. Of the 
thirty-five men on board when the explosion oc- 
curred ten of them were in the cabin or on the 
quarter-deck engaged in carrying out their com- 
mander's orders. "Thus situated the dreadful 
explosion took place, and in an instant the whole 
quarter-deck of the vessel, with all those upon it, 
were hurled into the air. Some of the bodies were 
thrown nearly as high as the masthead of the ves- 
sel; others were driven through the cabin and lodged 
upon the main deck. The whole stern of the vessel 
was torn down to a level with the water; the main- 
sail, which had been hoisted to dry, was torn to rags, 
and the fragments of broken spars were scattered 
in all directions. As soon as the accident had hap- 
pened, boats put off from the wharves and from the 
vessels near by to the relief of the crew. 

" An attempt was made to slip the cables and run 
her into one of the docks to prevent her from sink- 

i For the capture of the revenue cutter Surveyor, see Madams History 
of the Navy, vol. i, pp. 586, 587. 


ing, but before this could be fully accomplished the 
fire in the cabin had communicated with the main- 
sail and main rigging, at the same time the vessel 
was found to be filling very fast. In this extremity 
the wounded men were hastened into the boats 
alongside, and by the time the persons on board 
could leave her she went down sternforemost, a 
few yards from the head of Blake's Wharf. The 
bodies of three of the unfortunate sufferers were 
never seen; and happier would it have been for some 
of those who were brought on shore if they had 
shared their fate, as they can not survive the dread- 
ful wounds and bruises which they have received. 
It has been found impossible, after the most diligent 
inquiries, to ascertain the manner in which fire was 
communicated to the magazine; the persons imme- 
diately adjoining the cabin steps where the door 
opened from the cabin to the magazine were de- 
stroyed." 1 First Lieutenant Philips, of the Gallatin, 
had left the cutter only a few minutes before the 
explosion took place, the magazine being locked and 
the key being in a drawer in the cabin. The only 
other person of the vessel's complement who had 
any business with this key, besides the captain and 
Lieutenant Philips, was the gunner, and he was 
known to have been on deck at the time of the dis- 
aster. No satisfactory explanation of the accident 
has ever been made. 

1 Charleston Courier. 



Two distinguished American privateersmen who 
got to sea early in this war were David Maffitt and 
Nathaniel Shaler. The former, at the beginning of 
hostilities, commanded the Atlas, carrying twelve 
short 9-pounders and one long 9-pounder,with a com- 
plement of one hundred and four men. The Atlas, 
early in July, 1812, cleared the Capes of the Dela- 
ware, and when two days out she overhauled the brig 
Tulip, Captain Monk, just out from New York. The 
Tulip carried one of the British licenses referred to in 
the preceding chapter, and had on board one thou- 
sand four hundred barrels of flour and a quantity of 
salt beef. Suspecting that this cargo might be for 
the enemy, Maffitt pretended to be sailing under Eng- 
lish colors, and kept up the delusion so well that the 
commander of the Tulip was satisfied that the Atlas 
was an English and not an American privateer. 
Acting on this belief, Captain Monk said that he 
ought not to be detained, as he had dispatches from 
" Mr. Foster," and then the commander of the Tulip 
showed his " British license." 

" These papers," said Captain Maffitt, " are quite 
satisfactory; and now, instead of sending you into 
a British port, I will send you into the port of Phila- 
delphia." He then placed five men and a prize mas- 
ter aboard the Tulip, who carried the brig safely 
into that port. " We heard of a contract," said a 
Philadelphia newspaper of that day, " made at New 




York by Mr. Foster, and also one at Philadelphia, 
to supply the British armies [in Spain] with flour, 
etc., under British licenses, and we were in hopes 
that the ingenuity, enterprise, and management of 
our privateersmen would discover the traitors who 
were thus adhering to our enemies, giving them aid 
and comfort. Captain Maffitt deserves and will 
have the thanks of his fellow-citizens for the adroit- 
ness and judgment with which he captured the 


Continuing his cruise after his interception of 
the Tulip, Captain Maffitt, at half past eight o'clock 
on the morning of August 5th or two weeks before 
the first frigate action of the war discovered two 
sails to the west standing northeast, and he im- 
mediately tacked southward to reconnoiter. The 
Atlas Sit that time was in latitude 37 50' north and 
longitude 46 west. An hour later she tacked north- 
ward, and when satisfied he had merchantmen to 
deal with Captain Maffitt beat to quarters and 
cleared for action. At half past ten o'clock the 
Atlas bore away for both ships, and, showing Ameri- 
can colors, prepared to close with them. 

Quarter of an hour later the smaller ship opened 
fire on the privateer and hoisted English colors, her 
example being followed a few minutes later by her 
consort. Captain Maffitt, however, reserved his fire, 
as he was anxious to come to close quarters imme- 
diately. At eleven o'clock, having placed his vessel 
between the two English ships, he opened with a 
broadside from each battery, which was followed up 
with volleys of musketry. The effect of the priva- 
teer's cannon fire at such close quarters was ter- 
rific, and in an hour the smaller ship hauled her 
colors down. This enabled Captain Maffitt to devote 
his entire attention to the larger ship, which had 
been making a gallant fight and was keeping up a 
destructive fire. Scarcely had the Atlas turned from 
the smaller ship, however, when, to the surprise of 


the Americans, the latter opened fire again, notwith- 
standing the fact that she had surrendered and her 
colors were down. Captain Maffltt reopened on this 
vessel, and in a few minutes drove every man below 

All this time a heavy fire had been kept up by 
the Americans from their opposite battery on the 
larger ship, and it was seen that she was suffering 
heavily. At twenty minutes past twelve her flag 
came down, upon which a prize crew was placed 
aboard her and her people disarmed. She was the 
Pursuit, a vessel of four hundred and fifty tons, car- 
rying sixteen guns and a crew of thirty-five men. 
A prize crew also was sent aboard the second ship, 
the Planter. She was of two hundred and eighty 
tons burden, and carried twelve 12-pounders and a 
crew of fifteen men. Both ships were thirty days 
out from Surinam for London, laden with a cargo 
of coffee, cotton, cocoa, and six hundred hogsheads 
of sugar. 

In this action the Atlas was badly cut up in her 
rigging and spars. Every one of her shrouds on the 
port side was carried away, which, with the loss 
of other standing rigging and the foreyard, placed 
her masts in a critical condition. Two of her crew 
had been killed and five were wounded. In view of 
the shattered condition of his vessel, Captain Maffitt 
determined to make for the first port in the United 
States and refit. Taking the crews of both the Pur- 
suit and the Planter aboard the Atlas for safer keep- 
ing, he headed southward, with his prizes in com- 

For nearly a month the three vessels continued 
on their voyage westward without molestation, but 
at half past four o'clock on the morning of Septem- 
ber 2d a large ship was discovered to the east stand- 
ing southward. An hour later it was seen that she 
was a frigate, and shortly afterward she tacked 
and gave chase to the three vessels. Believing 


her to be an Englishman, Captain Maffitt promptly 
bore down and directed the prize master of the Pur- 
suit to tack southward and make the first port he 
could. The Atlas then ran close to the Planter and 
told her prize master that in all probability the 
frigate was an enemy, and ordered him to sail north- 
ward, Captain Maffitt deciding to take his chances 
with the frigate alone. 

By ten o'clock the Pursuit was out of sight to the 
south; but instead of singling out the Atlas, as was 
expected, the frigate made for the Planter, and by 
eleven o'clock it was seen that she was fast coming 
up with her. Captain Maffitt now backed his main 
topsail and awaited developments. At half past 
one o'clock the frigate opened on the Planter with 
her bow chasers, and at the fifth shot obliged her 
to heave to. Observing that the frigate was flying 
English colors, and realizing that he could be of no 
possible assistance to his late prize, Captain Maffitt 
made sail westward. At half past three the ships 
were still in sight, the Planter flying American colors 
at the mizzen peak. As this display of the United 
States ensign on the Planter could easily have been 
resorted to by an English frigate as a ruse for de- 
coying the privateer under her guns, Captain Maffitt 
kept on his course and gained port. Subsequently, 
he learned that the man-of-war was, in truth, an 
American, the 32-gun frigate Essex, Captain David 
Porter. Both of the Atlas' prizes arrived safely in 

Befitting after her first successful cruise, the 
Atlas got to sea again; but Captain Maffitt, early in 
the summer of 1813, was compelled to run into Ocra- 
coke Inlet, North Carolina, where he found the 18- 
gun privateer Anaconda, Captain Nathaniel Shaler, 
of New York. Captain Shaler, like Captain Maffitt, 
was one of the successful privateersmen of this 
struggle. His first command was the 14 -gun 
schooner Governor TompUns, of New York, but owned 


principally by people living in Baltimore. TMs ves- 
sel had left port about the time the Atlas made her 
first venture and had met with some success. In 
order to relieve himself of a number of prisoners, 
Captain Shaler placed them aboard a whaler from 
London, bound for the South Sea. The whaler had 
been intercepted by the Governor TompUns and 
ordered to Falmouth. 

In chasing the whaler Captain Shaler had been 
drawn some distance from his cruising ground, and, 
owing to calms, did not regain it until December 
25, 1812. At sunrise on that day Captain Shaler 
discovered three ships ahead and made sail in chase. 
As the wind was light the privateer came up to 
them slowly, but it was not long before they were 
made out to be two ships and a brig. There was 
something about the appearance of one of the ships 
that caused Captain Shaler anxiety, and he pre- 
pared to act with more caution. He noticed that 
she seemed to be industriously engaged in communi- 
cating with her consorts, Boats were observed to 
be hurriedly pulling between her and the other ves- 
sels. Besides this, she had boarding nettings almost 
up to her tops, with her topmast studding sail 
booms out and sails at their ends ready for spread- 
ing. Her ports were painted, and she carried some- 
thing on her deck that resembled a merchantman's 

Believing her to be a large transport, Captain 
Shaler was approaching cautiously under English 
colors, when suddenly, at three o'clock in the after- 
noon, a squall from the north struck the privateer, 
and as the supposed transport had not yet felt the 
wind the Americans in a few minutes found them- 
selves carried within a quarter of a mile of the 
stranger. Captain Shaler had done his best to get 
his light sails in, but such was the force of the wind 
that he found his vessel carried toward the stranger 
almost before he could turn round. Just before 


the squall struck Mm lie had told First Officer Far- 
num that he thought the stranger too heavy to be a 
privateer, and he ordered the first officer to go for- 
ward and take another look through his glass. It 
was then that the stranger showed herself to be, not 
a transport, but a first-class frigate, and, tricing up 
their ports, her people delivered a broadside that 
killed two and wounded six of the Americans, one 
of the latter mortally. Among the wounded was 
Mr. Farnum. Seeing that further concealment was 
unnecessary, the American commander hauled down 
the English colors and sent up three American en- 
signs, and, trimming his sails by the wind, began 
an animated fire from his puny battery. 

At this moment the privateer was a little abaft 
the frigate's beam, and for Captain Shaler to have 
attempted to tack in a hard squall would have ex- 
posed him to a raking fire. To have attempted to 
tack and failing to do so would have placed his 
schooner hopelessly within the power of her huge 
antagonist. Captain Shaler, therefore, determined 
to receive the enemy's fire on the tack on which he 
had been standing, hoping to outsail the frigate and 
pass beyond her bow, where he would not be exposed 
to her dreaded broadside. 

The Englishman also kept on the same tack, and 
the two vessels ran along side by side, giving and 
receiving a spirited fire. Unfortunately for Captain 
Shaler's calculations, the English frigate proved to 
be a remarkably fast sailer almost as fast as the 
privateer so that she managed to keep her broad- 
side guns playing with full effect on the chase much 
longer than the American had anticipated. " Such 
a tune as was played round nay ears," wrote Captain 
Shaler, " I assure you I never wish to hear again in 
the same key." 

But in spite of the terrific fire they were ex- 
posed to, the Americans held their course, with their 
triple colors defiantly flying in the gale. Almost at 


her first fire, a shot from the frigate blew up one 
of the Governor Tomplcins' shot boxes, in which were 
two 9-pounder cartridges. Their explosion set fire 
to a number of pistols and three tube boxes, which 
were lying in the companion way, all of which ex- 
ploded. Some of the tubes passed through a crevice 
under the companion leaf and fell to the cabin floor, 
near the entrance to the magazine. For an instant 
it was feared that the ship would be blown up, but 
fortunately the precaution of wetting the cabin 
floor and drenching the screen, or woolen blanket 
over the hatch leading to the powder room, pre- 
vented any further explosion. 

Soon after this a heavy shot hit a colored sea- 
man named John Thompson on the hip, taking off 
both legs and horribly mutilating the lower part of 
his body. Notwithstanding his agony he lay on the 
deck, and before he died he exclaimed several times 
to those around him, " Fire away, boys! Nebber haul 
de colors down." Another black sailor, named John 
Davis, was mortally hurt in much the same way. He 
fell to the deck near where Captain Shaler was 
standing, and requested that he might be thrown 
overboard, so that his body would not encumber the 
working of the guns. 

For half an hour the Governor TompJdns was sub- 
jected to this destructive fire. At the end of that 
time she began to draw ahead of the frigate and the 
enemy's shot gradually fell short. At half past 
four, however, the wind died away, but the English 
ship still holding a good breeze, her shot again 
began to fly unpleasantly round the ears of the 
Americans. Captain Shaler now relieved his 
schooner of all the lumber on her deck and threw 
overboard some two thousand pounds of shot from 
the after hold. He then got out his sweeps, and, set- 
ting all hands to work, gradually drew away from 
"one of the most quarrelsome companions that I 
ever met," as he grimly expressed it. 


Finding that he was steadily losing ground, the 
English ship, at 5.25 P. M., hove about and returned 
to her consorts. Prom information subsequently 
gained, Captain Shaler believed that his "quarrel- 
some foe " was the British frigate Laurel, one of the 
ships manned and fitted expressly to cope with the 
heavy American 44-gun frigates. The Laurel was 
reputed to be one of the fastest sailers in the long 
list of British frigates. 

Returning from this cruise Captain Shaler as- 
sumed the command of the 13-gun brig Anaconda, of 
New York. The subsequent career of the G-overnor 
Tompkins was one fraught with riches for her men 
and owners. Among her commanders was Captain 
J. Skinner, and among the prizes was the Nereid, 
which was sold in New York, the gross receipts, ex- 
clusive of jewelry, amounting to two hundred and 
seventy thousand dollars. Other prizes taken by this 
favorite ship were the brig Ajax, mounting two guns, 
from which a quantity of valuable drygoods was 
taken; the 2-gun brig Hartley, from Gibraltar for San 
Salvador, which was burned; and the brig Young Hus- 
band, laden with drygoods, hardware, etc., from Bris- 
tol for Madeira, which was sent into Newport. Of 
these prizes the Nereid was the most valuable. She 
was of two hundred and eighty tons burden and car- 
ried ten guns. She was taken off Madeira, from Lon- 
don for Buenos Ayres, and had on board two hun- 
dred and fifty bales of drygoods, two hundred and 
sixty-three packages and trunks of the same, one 
hundred and fifty casks, hogsheads, and tierces of 
hardware and jewelry, eight hundred and sixty-nine 
bundles of iron hoops, eighty bars of iron, and a 
quantity of coal, the entire cargo being valued at 
seventy-five thousand pounds. In February, 1814, 
the Governor Tompkins captured a whaler bound to 
the South Sea, which was divested and turned into 
a cartel. In March of the same year she took the 
brig Henry, of six guns, which was sent into New 


York and sold for two hundred thousand dollars. 
In a brief cruise in the English Channel the Governor 
TompUns made ten prizes. In her entire career she 
made twenty prizes, three of which were valued at 
half a million dollars. 

Captain Shaler's career in the Anaconda was 
marked at the outset by an occurrence which well 
illustrates the disadvantages of having our com- 
merce destroyers under private management. 
While off Cape Cod, January 16, 1813, the Anaconda, 
through lack of a good system of signaling between 
our Government war ships and the privateers, mis- 
took the United States war schooner Commodore Hull 
for an enemy, and fired a broadside into her before 
the mistake was discovered. By this fire the com- 
mander of the Commodore Hull, Lieutenant H. S. New- 
comb, was seriously wounded. First Officer Bur- 
bank, of the Anaconda, was blamed for the mistake, 
but on court-martial the privateer's people were re- 
lieved from responsibility in the matter. 

Making for European waters, the Anaconda, on 
May 14, 1813, while in the latitude of the Cape de 
Verde Islands, fell in with the British packet ship 
Express, a brig carrying eleven 12-pounders and a 
crew of thirty-eight men. She was from Bio de 
Janeiro bound for England, having on board eighty 
thousand dollars in specie and two hundred and 
thirty stands of muskets. In the sharp action of 
thirty-five minutes that followed the Englishmen 
made a brave resistance, but finally were overcome, 
having their spars and rigging much cut and five 
feet of water in their hold. The prize, after the 
specie and valuables were taken out of her, was ran- 
somed for eight thousand dollars. Soon afterward 
the Anaconda seized the 8-gun brig Mary, from Gi- 
braltar for Brazil, having on board wine and silks 
valued at thirty-five thousand dollars. This prize 
was sent into New Haven. In the same month, June, 
Captain Shaler captured the brig Harriet, from 




Buenos Ayres for London, laden with hides and tal- 
low, invoiced at one hundred thousand dollars. This 
vessel was carried into New Bedford. The estimated 


Map of Albemarle and Paralico Sounds. 

value of all the A.naconda?s prizes was two hundred 
and fifteen thousand dollars. Early in July Captain 
Shaler ran into Ocracoke Inlet, where he found the 
Atlas, as we have seen. 


On the night of July 12, 1813, Bear- Admiral Cock- 
burn appeared off this inlet with the 74-gun ship 
of the line Sceptre, the frigates Romulus, Fox 9 and 
Nemesis, the war brig Conflict, and the tenders High- 
flyer and Cockchafer, having on board about five hun- 
dred men of the One Hundred and Third Eegiment 
and a detachment of artillery, for the purpose of 
destroying these two privateers, which Cockburn 
had learned had taken refuge there. As this power- 
ful squadron approached the inlet the masts of the 
Atlas and Anaconda were plainly seen, and the enemy 
at once made preparations for an attack. At 2 A. M. 
on the 13th the troops embarked in boats, and, under 
the escort of the light-draft tenders and the Conflict, 
made toward the shore in three divisions. Owing 
to the heavy ocean swell and the great distance at 
which the heavier vessels were obliged to anchor 
from the beach, the division under Lieutenant West- 
phal, of the Sceptre, did not land until daylight, 
which deprived the enemy of the advantages of a 
night attack. 

Having arranged their plan of attack, the British 
boats, under cover of a rapid discharge of rockets, 
doubled the point of land behind which the priva- 
teers were anchored, and dashed toward them in 
gallant style. Eealizing that it would be madness 
to oppose the overwhelming force that was advanc- 
ing upon him, Captain Shaler cut his cables and got 
ashore with his men, the British taking possession 
of the Anaconda without opposition. The guns of 
that vessel were now turned upon the Atlas, and 
Captain Maffitt, seeing the uselessness of resistance, 
surrendered. Elated with their easy capture of 
these two formidable privateers, the enemy advanced 
against the village of Portsmouth, seizing that place, 
and were preparing to attack New Berne, when they 
learned that vigorous measures were being taken 
by the inhabitants to repel an assault. The project 
against New Berne was abandoned, and, after hold- 


ing Portsmouth two days, the enemy retired to their 
ships and sailed away. Both the Atlas and the Ana- 
conda were taken into the British navy, the latter 
retaining her name and the former rechristened 
St. Lawrence. The St. Lawrence, as will be shown 
in another chapter, 1 was recaptured, after one of the 
most brilliant actions of the war, by the Americans. 
The Highflyer, also one of the vessels engaged in this 
affair, was captured on the 23d of the following Sep- 
tenrber by the American 44-gun frigate President, 
Captain John Rodgers. The Highflyer at that time 
was commanded by Lieutenant George Hutchinson. 

Captain Shaler did not get to sea again as a com- 
mander of an American privateer; but Captain Maf- 
fitt, notwithstanding the loss of his ship, soon se- 
cured the command of the splendid 16-gun brig Rat- 
tlesnake, and in company with the privateer Scourge, 
Captain Samuel Nicoll, a native of Stratford, Con- 
necticut, made one of the most successful ventures of 
the war; the Rattlesnake alone sending into Norway 
one million dollars' worth of prizes. The Scourge had 
sailed from New York in April, 1813, for a cruise on 
the north coast of England. After taking a number 
of prizes Captain Nicoll, on July 19th, while off Cape 
North, fell in with the United States 44-gun frigate 
President, Captain John Eodgers, and cruised in her 
company some time. A number of British vessels 
sailing to and from Archangel were secured, most 
of them being sent into Norwegian ports. 

Soon after parting from the President the Scourge 
met the Rattlesnake, and, having a number of prison- 
ers aboard, both privateers ran into Drontheim, 
where Captain Nicoll went ashore to attend to the 
sale of his prizes, while the Scourge was refitted and 
went to sea, in the following spring, under the com- 
mand of her first officer, J. K. Perry. This was on 
March 10, 1814, and on April 1st, while off Cape 

1 See pages 295-300. 


Wrath, the privateer took the Symmetry, a fine vessel 
from Liverpool, coppered, and laden with salt, 
crates, hardware, etc. This vessel was in company 
with the ship Winchester and the brig Union, both of 
which were soon taken by the nimble Scourge. These 
vessels were bound for Long Hope, where they were 
to get a convoy. Having taken out the most valu- 
able goods, Captain Perry burned the vessels and 
placed the prisoners aboard a Swedish ship. 

The Scourge hovered on the English coast some 
time. On April 7th she chased a Greenland whaler 
and fired ten broadsides into her, and undoubtedly 
would have captured her had not a sloop of war 
close inshore given chase. For six hours it was a 
hard run, but the privateer finally escaped, although 
she strained her fore-topmast A week later, while 
in a moderate breeze, both her topmasts were carried 
away, the wreckage killing one man and wounding 
three. This mishap, however, did not prevent the 
Scourge from refitting at sea and continuing her 
cruise. On May 9th she boarded the American priva- 
teer Fox, Captain Brown, of Portsmouth, New Hamp- 
shire, forty days out. The Fox, it seems, had made 
four prizes, two of which had been destroyed, the 
other two being ordered into port. Captain Brown 
at one time had been hotly pursued by a British 
frigate, and, though effecting his escape, he had beer 
obliged to throw overboard ten of his guns. Sub 
sequently he chased a vessel which he took to be a 
merchantman, and did not discover she was 2 
sloop of war until he was close aboard, when sh 
triced up her ports and let go two broadsides at th< 
Fox. The privateer, although hit several times- 
one shot going through an arms chest managed t< 
escape. The Scourge sailed for the United States 
arriving at Chatham, Cape Cod, in May, having beei 
absent more than a year, in which time she ha< 
taken twenty-seven vessels and four hundred an< 
twenty prisoners. 


Meantime the Rattlesnake had been giving a good 
account of herself. Between August 10 and August 
22, 1813, Captain Maffitt took the brigs Betsey, Pax, 
Thetis, Diligent, and Friends Adventure, besides the 
sloops Perseverance and Fame. In all, the Rattlesnake 
took eighteen vessels. Captain Maffitt spent the 
winter of 1813-14 in Europe, and early in the latter 
year we find him at La Eochelle, where, after wit- 
nessing the marvelous escape of the Ida, as narrated 
in another chapter, 1 he was blockaded by a British 
squadron. Escaping from that port, after the Ida 
got to sea, the Rattlesnake was captured, June 3, 1814, 
by the British frigate Hyperion. 

1 See chapter xv, Escape of the Ida. 



ALTHOUGH one of the smallest States in the 
Union, Rhode Island sent out several privateers in 
this war which made up for deficiency in number 
by the vast amount of damage they inflicted upon 
the enemy's commerce. A peculiarity of Rhode 
Island's privateers was the fact that they monopo- 
lized the name " Yankee." They had the Yankee, the 
True Blooded Yankee, the Yankee Lass, the Yankee 
American, and the Yankee Porter. The last two, 
though hailing from Salem and New York respec- 
tively, were largely manned by Rhode Island sea- 
men. The first to get to sea was the Yankee. She 
was a brig of one hundred and sixty-eight tons, 
armed with the usual long torn amidships, a 12- 
pounder, and fourteen short guns, 9- and 6-pounders, 
in her broadsides. Her owners were James De Wolf 
and John Smith, of Bristol, the former having three 
fourths and the latter one fourth interest in her. 
She sailed on her first cruise the middle of July, 1812, 
under the command of Captain Oliver Wilson, and 
made for the coast of Nova Scotia. About noon, 
August 1st, when off the harbor of Halifax, a sail 
was reported to Captain Wilson bearing off the lee 
bow some four miles away, the thick weather having 
prevented her discovery before this. The stranger 
was seen to be a large ship, apparently well armed. 
Captain Wilson boldly ran down, and by 1 P. M. he 
was near enough to observe that she was preparing 


for battle. The Americans were then sent to quar- 
ters, and being to windward they approached the 
stranger on her weather quarter. When within 
close range the ship showed English colors, where- 
upon Captain Wilson fired his first division of guns. 
As the Yankee began to double on the Englishman's 
quarter the Americans poured in a full broadside, 
to which the stranger promptly replied, and the fir- 
ing became rapid and well sustained on both sides. 
As the two vessels were at close quarters, the 
American marksmen in the tops opened an effective 
fire with their small arms. 

It was not long before the enemy's sails and rig- 
ging were cut to pieces and their helmsman was 
shot at the wheel. This caused some confusion in 
their ship, which rapidly increased under the de- 
structive fire maintained by the Americans. About 
this time the Yankee ran off a short distance and 
then luffed across the stranger's bow, where a ter- 
rific raking broadside was delivered, which, followed 
up with a shower of musket balls, compelled the 
Englishman to surrender. The prize proved to be 
the British privateer Royal Bounty, Captain Henry 
Gambles, a splendid vessel of six hundred and fifty- 
eight tons about four times as large as the Yankee 
mounting ten guns, but manned by only twenty- 
five men. It was probably owing to the circumstance 
of her being short-handed that she yielded so soon 
as she did. Captain Wilson displayed true mettle 
in attacking such a formidable-looking ship when 
he was necessarily ignorant of her condition. The 
Yankee's complement consisted of one hundred and 
twenty officers and men. The Royal Bounty was 
seven weeks out from Hull in ballast, bound for 
Prince Edward Island. 

In this action the Americans had three men 
wounded, while their sails and rigging were some- 
what damaged. The English craft had two men 
killed and seven wounded, among the latter being 

their commander and one or two of his officers. The 
hull, sails, and rigging of the Royal Bounty were cut 
to pieces and all her boats were shattered, more than 
one hundred and fifty heavy shot having struck her. 
With characteristic kindness the American com- 
mander, on hearing of the casualties in his prize, 
sent his surgeon aboard to attend to the enemy's 
wounded. Transferring the prisoners to his own 
ship, Captain Wilson placed a prize crew in the Royal 
Bounty and ordered her to an American port. Con- 
tinuing her cruise the Yankee captured several other 
British vessels the most valuable being the Eliza 
Ann, from Liverpool, with a full cargo of British 
goods, which was sent into Boston, August 26th 
and then returned to port. 

About the middle of October, 1812, the Janlcee 
sailed on her second cruise, still under the command 
of Captain Wilson. This time the privateer steered 
for the west coast of Africa, and was not long in 
making known her arrival. Her first "appropria- 
tion" was the British sloop Mary Ann, Captain 
Sutherland, a coppered vessel from London, carry- 
ing four guns and eleven men. The Englishmen 
did not have an opportunity to resist, and were 
taken aboard the privateer as prisoners. The Mary 
Ann was found to have on board gold dust, ivory, and 
camwood to the value of twenty-eight thousand dol- 
lars, which were taken aboard the Jankee and then 
the sloop was burned. The next prize was another 
coppered vessel, the schooner Alder, Captain Crow- 
ley from Liverpool, carrying six 9-pounders and 
twenty-one men. These people made a stubborn de- 
fense, but on the blowing up of their quarter-deck, 
by which their commander and six of his crew 
were killed, they surrendered. The Alder had in her 
hold four hundred casks of musket flints, a quan- 
tity of bar lead, iron, and drygoods, the entire cargo 
and vessels being valued at twenty-four thousand 


Skirting along the coast of Africa, Captain Wil- 
son looked into every port, river, and factory town 
in search of the enemy. At one place there was a 
fort called Appollonia, mounting fifty guns, though 
it is probable that most of them were not service- 
able. Discovering a brig snugly anchored under 
the guns of this formidable-looking fort, Captain 
Wilson organized an expedition for the purpose of 
cutting the brig out. The plan was put through in a 
most audacious manner. The brig, which proved to 
be the Fly, was taken from her anchorage near the 
fort and brought out in safety. Her commander was 
Captain Tydeman. The Fly carried six guns and had 
fourteen men aboard. Her cargo consisted of gold 
dust, ivory, gunpowder, iron, drygoods, and various 
other articles, the vessel and cargo being valued at 
thirty-six thousand dollars. Captain Wilson placed 
a prize crew aboard the Fly and ordered her to the 
United States. 

Another vessel taken by the Yankee on this cruise 
was the brig Thames, Captain Toole, of Liverpool, 
carrying eight guns and fourteen men, with a cargo 
of drygoods, camwood, and redwood worth forty 
thousand dollars. This vessel also was manned and 
arrived safely in Boston. Not long after he had seen 
the Thames fairly off, Captain Wilson fell in with 
the brig Harriet and Matilda, Captain Inman, from 
Cork for Pernambuco, carrying eight guns and four- 
teen men. This vessel at one time had been a Portu- 
guese war brig, captured by the English in 1808. At 
the time of her falling into the clutches of the Yankee 
she had on board a cargo of fine cloths, linens, iron, 
salt, and porter to the value of forty-one thousand 
dollars, which were duly appropriated by the cap- 
tors. The fifth prize made by Captain Wilson was 
the brig Shannon by one account the Andalusia 
Captain Kendall, from Maranham for Liverpool, 
having on board ten guns and one hundred men, of 
whom eighty-one were free blacks. This vessel and 


cargo, worth thirty-four thousand dollars, arrived 
safely at Savannah. 

While looking into Tradetown Captain Wilson 
observed a schooner lying there at anchor. He made 
a bold dash into the port and came out with the 
schooner George, having on board a cargo of rice. 
Taking out two thousand five hundred dollars' worth 
of this commodity, Captain Wilson placed all his 
prisoners in the George and gave them permission 
to make for whatever port they pleased, -while he 
turned the prow of the Yankee westward. Before 
reaching the American side of the Atlantic Captain 
Wilson made his eighth prize, the schooner Alfred. 
The Yankee, after touching at several Portuguese is- 
lands for water and " information," arrived in New- 
port by another account Bristol in March, 1813, 
having taken, in a cruise of one hundred and fifty 
days, eight vessels, one hundred and ninety-six men, 
four hundred and six muskets, and property to the 
value of two hundred and ninety-six thousand dol- 
lars. Soon after gaming port the owners of the 
Yankee had the satisfaction of learning" that the 
cargo of the Shannon, which had been appraised by 
Captain Wilson at only thirty-four thousand dollars, 
had realized sixty-seven thousand five hundred and 
twenty-one dollars. 

But the thrifty Yankee could not long remain in 
port, and soon after settling her accounts, and after 
giving herself a little brushing up, she put to sea 
again at seven o'clock on the evening of Slay 20, 
1813, this time under the command of Captain Elisha 
Snow. It was known to Captain Snow that an Eng- 
lish frigate and a 14-gun brig of war were waiting 
for him in the neighborhood of Block Island, but 
under cover of night he succeeded in giving the 
cruisers the slip, and was again in blue water. Two 
days after leaving port the Yankee captured the Brit- 
ish brig William and ordered her in, but unfortu- 
nately the latter fell into the clutches of the frigate 


which the Yankee had eluded. On the day he took 
the William Captain Snow fell in with a Portuguese 
schooner, and after paroling the men he had taken 
out of his prize he placed them aboard the Portu- 
guese and resumed his cruise. 

On May 30th the Yankee came across the English 
brig Thames, the second vessel bearing that name 
which she had met during her career in this war. 
The Thames carried fourteen guns, but was manned 
by only twenty men. Nevertheless the Britons made 
a gallant fight, and it was not until after an action of 
more than an hour that they could be induced to sur- 
render. She was sent into Portland, where the brig 
and cargo of more than two thousand bales of cot- 
ton were sold for one hundred and ten thousand dol- 
lars. On June 3d the privateer overhauled a Portu- 
guese brig from New York, and Captain Snow placed 
in her the officers and men of the Thames, after they 
had given their promise not to serve against the 
United States again in this war. 

By the middle of June Captain Snow was near- 
ing the coast of Ireland, and on the 22d, when in 
sight of land, he captured the sloop Earl Camden, of 
one hundred and ten tons, valued at ten thousand 
dollars, which was ordered to France. Eight days 
later, while still in sight of the Irish coast, he took 
the English brig Elizabeth, of one hundred and fifty- 
six tons, laden with cotton estimated to be worth 
eighty thousand dollars, which also was ordered to 
France. On the same day Captain Snow took the 
brig Watson, carrying three guns and fifteen men. 
She had on board bale cotton valued at sixty thou- 
sand dollars. 

Still clinging to the Irish coast, Captain Snow 
on July 1st stood close in to land, and after 
paroling his prisoners placed them in two boats 
and " directed " them to make for the shore. Scarce- 
ly had these boats put off when the lookouts re- 
ported a strange sail. Chase was promptly given, 


and in a short time tie Yaw tec overhauled the 
schooner Ceres, of Londonderry, laden with produce. 
As this vessel was of little value she was released 
after some articles of value to her captors had been 
taken out. Continuing within sight of the coast, the 
Yankee on the following day seized the brig Mariner, 
laden with mm and sugar to the value of seventy 
thousand dollars, which was ordered to France. The 
officers and crew of this prize, after being paroled, 
were placed in a boat and permitted to land. 

The whereabouts of the mischievous Yankee were 
now so well known to the- enemy, through the re- 
ports brought by these paroled prisoners, that Cap- 
tain Snow deemed it prudent to stand out to sea, and 
on July 23d he gave chase to a promising sail. When 
within gunshot the Yankee discharged her bow 
chaser, but as no attention was paid to this sum- 
mons to heave to a second gun was fired. This shot 
also was unheeded, whereupon Captain Snow hoisted 
American colors \vith a pennant and sent a shot into 
the stranger. The latter then displayed Spanish 
colors and discharged her stern gun. Meantime the 
Yankee was rapidly gaining, and on coming within 
pistol shot the Americans fired a lee gun as an indi- 
cation of friendship, but the chase luffed up and 
opened with grape from her stern guns. Satisfied 
that he was dealing with an Englishman in disguise, 
Captain Snow began firing in earnest, and after five 
or six broadsides he brought the Spanish colors 
down. On sending a boat aboard it was found that 
the stranger was, in truth, a Spaniard, being the 
privateer Ntieva Constitution, a ship of three hundred 
tons, mounting six 24-pounders and two 12-pounders 
and carrying a crew of twenty-five men. Assured of 
his mistake, Captain Snow hastened to apologize and 
released the Spaniard. 

Three days later the Yankee gave chase to a brig, 
which, when the vessels were within three miles of 
each other, was seen to be a war craft. Upon dis- 


covering this, Captain Snow hauled close upon th( 
wind, and notwithstanding the fact that th( 
stranger showed American colors he declined tak 
ing chances and continued on his course, so that ir 
a few hours he left her far behind. On August 20tl 
the Yankee returned to port, having captured twenty 
two English vessels in her first three cruises, with 
out the loss of a man on her part. 

Her fourth venture also was very successful. She 
sailed September 13, 1813, having Thomas Jones as 
her commander. Her first prizes were the brigs 
Ann, laden with rum, salt, and drygoods, for New- 
foundland, valued at forty thousand dollars, and the 
Mary, having a cargo of salt, coal, and crockery, 
valued at twenty thousand dollars, which were sent 
into Chatham. Captain Jones also took the brigs 
Dispatch and Telemachus, the former having a cargo 
of drygoods and cutlery invoiced at forty thousand 
dollars, and the latter which was recaptured with 
a cargo of rigging, coal, and provisions. The most 
valuable part of the Telemachus' cargo had been 
transferred to the privateer before she was ordered 
to port. 

After taking the brig Favorite, which was trans- 
formed into a cartel, and the schooner Katy, which 
was sent into New Bedford, Captain Jones met the 
bark Paris, armed with ten guns and manned with 
a strong crew. The Yankee's complement had by 
this time been much reduced by drafts for manning 
her prizes, so that it required a hot fight of thirty- 
five minutes before she could prevail upon the Paris 
to surrender. The prize had a valuable cargo, which 
was transferred to the privateer. The Paris was 
then manned and ordered to an American port, but 
soon afterward she was recaptured. All of these 
vessels had formed a part of a great fleet of mer- 
chantmen which had sailed from Cork under the pro- 
tection of a strong force of war ships. They had 
become separated by a storm, and the Yankee com- 

1813-1814. A 600,000 PRIZE. 2TS 

ing along just then made easy capture of the stray 
ones. After taking two more vessels of this fleet, 
the brigs John and Mary and the Hoice, Captain Jones 
made for home, arriving forty-nine days after sail- 
ing. The John and Mary \vas found to be laden with 
shot and provisions worth forty-nine thousand dol- 
lars, while the Howe, being comparatively of little 
value, was released and the prisoners placed in 
her and allowed to go. In this short cruise tke 
Yankee made one hundred and eighty prisoners. 

Owing to the rigorous blockade maintained by 
the British fleet off Khode Island the Yankee did not 
get to sea again until May or June, 1814, when she 
again was under the command of Captain Elista 
Snow. In this cruise of only a few weeks the Yankee 
took four vessels the ship Sir Hugh Jones, from Bel- 
fast for Guadeloupe, which was divested of her valu- 
able cargo and ordered in; the ship Berry Castle, of 
six guns, which was released after Captain Sno^v 
had divested the vessel of her cargo of barilla and 
wine; the brig Maria Wirman, from Havana for Scot- 
land; and the ship San Jose Indiano, from Liverpool 
for Bio Janeiro. The last vessel was of enormous 
value, and on being taken into Portland the gross 
receipts from the sale of the ship and cargo "was 
nearly six hundred thousand dollars. The owners 
of the Yankee received as their share of the profits 
nearly a quarter of a million dollars, while not a 
boy in the Yankee got less than seven hundred dol- 
lars. Captain Snow received for his portion fifteen 
thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine dollars, 
while the negro waiters in the cabin, Cuffee Cock- 
roach and Jack Jibsheet, received one thousand one 
hundred and twenty-one dollars and eighty-eight 
cents and seven hundred and thirty-eight dollars and 
nineteen cents, respectively. 

In her sixth and last cruise the Yankee \vas com- 
manded by William C. Jenkes, until he was succeeded 
by B. K. Churchill, Jenkes losing one of his legs be- 


fore the end of the cruise. She sailed October 1, 1814, 
and on January 21, 1815, put into Beaufort, North 
Carolina, after a successful cruise, having taken six 
vessels the brigs Lady Prevost, Courtney, and Specu- 
lator] the ships St. Andrews and General Wellesley, and 
a schooner from Bermuda laden with flour. The 
Speculator, which had a cargo of jerked beef, was 
given up to the prisoners. The Courtney was taken 
into New Bedford, and on sale realized seventy thou- 
sand dollars. The General Wellesley was a splendid 
vessel of six hundred tons, built in the strongest pos- 
sible manner of teak wood, newly coppered, and 
fitted with all the improvements then known. She 
carried an armament of sixteen guns and a crew 
of thirty-six Englishmen and fifty Lascars, and it 
was only after a running fight of several hours that 
the 'Yankee finally captured her. The prize was from 
London for Calcutta, and consequently was well 
stocked with miscellaneous articles, a part of her 
cargo consisting of eighteen thousand bars of iron. 
As this prize was worth at least two hundred and 
fifty thousand dollars, an unusually strong prize 
crew was placed aboard her under the orders of 
James M. Blum, with instructions to make for 
Charleston, South Carolina. Unfortunately, while 
endeavoring to enter the harbor, the General Welles- 
ley struck on the bar and became a total wreck all 
of her original crew, besides two of the Americans, 

Prom these six cruises of the Yankee it will be 
seen that her record was an unusual one. She had 
taken altogether nine ships, twenty-five brigs, five 
schooners, and one sloop, making in all forty ves- 
sels captured from the British. She had seized or 
destroyed property to the value of five million dol- 
lars, and had sent into Bristol alone one million 
dollars' worth of goods. 

Equally successful and even more remarkable 
than the career of the Yankee was that of the True 


Blooded Yankee. This vessel, although fitted out in 
France, is entitled to a place among " those < Yan- 
kees ' of Ehode Island," inasmuch as she was fitted 
out by a Mr. Treble, a Ehode Islander, then living 
in Paris. She was a French brig, carrying sixteen 
guns, and had been captured by the English and 
taken into their navy shortly before the war with 
the United States broke out. Afterward she was 
recaptured by the French, from whom Mr. Preble 
purchased her and fitted her .out as an American 
privateer. Captain W. F. Wise, of the British frig- 
ate Granicus, said of her, in a conversation with one 
of his prisoners, the captain of an American priva- 
teer: " She outsailed everything, and not one of our 
cruisers could touch her." 

The True Blooded Yankee sailed from Brest, March 
1,1813, under the command of Captain Hailey, and 
made directly for the Irish Channel. Her first prize 
was the little coasting craft Margaret, in which Cap- 
tain Hailey placed a prize master and six men, with 
orders to make for Morlaix. The peculiar dangers 
of privateering were well illustrated in the fate of 
this prize. It seems that Mr. Preble had some diffi- 
culty in getting together a sufficient number of men 
to fill out the complement of the True Blooded Yankee; 
as, being in a French port, American seamen were 
scarce, and recourse had to be taken to unusual 
means. By the connivance of the French authori- 
ties the Americans were permitted to search 
through the prisons in the hope of inducing sailors to 
serve in the privateer. A number of men were thus 
secured, as they were glad to exchange their dreary 
confinement for a life full of adventure and promise 
of large financial rewards. Among these prisoners 
was an Englishman named John Wiltshire, who had 
been in a French dungeon three years. t Hearing that 
an American privateer was being fitted out, he de- 
clared himself to be an American citizen, and ac- 
cordingly was released and allowed to enlist in the 


True Blooded Yankee. He was one of the men detailed 
to act as a part of the prize crew of the Margaret. 
The Margaret had scarcely lost sight of the priva- 
teer when she was recaptured by the British cutter 
Nimrod, and her prize crew made prisoners. Wilt- 
shire was recognized as an English subject and was 
promptly hanged. 

Continuing his cruise along the coast of Ireland, 
Captain Hailey took prizes daily, and on one occa- 
sion he seized an island near the enemy's mainland 
and held it for six days, until he had made necessary 
repairs, when he resumed his cruise. He returned to 
Brest in thirty-seven days, having in that time made 
two hundred and seventy prisoners and secured 
enormously valuable cargoes. Among the goods 
stowed in the hold of the True Blooded Yankee were 
eighteen bales of Turkish carpets, forty-three bales 
of raw silk, twenty boxes of gum, twenty-four packs 
of beaver skins, etc., showing that every quarter of 
the globe had contributed to the wealth of the pri- 
vateersmen. Sailing from France again, Captain 
Hailey made a rapid circuit of Ireland and Scotland. 
He landed several times and held small towns for 
a ransom, and on one occasion he burned seven ves- 
sels in an Irish port. In May he had the audacity 
to run into the harbor of Dublin, where he sank 
a schooner that had eluded him the day before. 
Again returning to Prance, the True Blooded Yankee 
disposed of her prizes and their cargoes at great 

On September 30, 1813, the following notice, 
copied from a Paris newspaper, dated September 
25th, was posted in Lloyd's Coffee House, London: 
" The True Blooded Yankee, American privateer, has 
been completely refitted for sea, manned with a crew 
of two hundred men, and sailed from Brest the 21st 
inst. supposed for the purpose of cruising in the 
British Channel. Her orders are to sink, burn, and 
destroy, and not to capture with the intention of 


carrying into port." These orders were faithfully 
carried out, an immense amount of damage being 
inflicted on British commerce at the hands of this 
" Yankee " scourge. It was on this cruise that the 
True Blooded Yankee was finally captured, she having 
at the time only thirty-two men out of her original 
complement of two hundred, the rest having been 
drawn off to form prize crews for vessels captured 
from the enemy. The privateer and her people were 
taken to Gibraltar, where they were confined until 
the close of the war. In all the True Blooded Yankee 
took six ships and twenty-one smaller craft, one of 
her prizes being worth four hundred thousand 

Of the other " Yankees of Ehode Island," of which 
mention has been made, there remains little to re- 
cord. The Yankee Lass, a schooner of nine guns and 
eighty-five men, was commanded by Captain B. K. 
Churchill, who had served with distinction in the 
Yankee under Captain Jenkes. The Yankee Lass was 
captured at sea on her maiden cruise when only 
twenty days out, May 1, 1814, by the British frigate 
Severn. The Yankee American made a short cruise on 
the outbreak of hostilities under Captain Stanwood. 
She was a schooner of seven guns and carried forty- 
four men. In her second venture, under Captain T. 
Pillsbury, she was captured October 24, 1812, when 
one month out, while off Sombrero lighthouse, 
by the sloop of war Peruvian. Of the Yankee Porter 
little is known except that she was a sloop of 
two guns with thirty-five men, under the command 
of Captain J. Welden. Not one prize is credited 

to her. 

There were five other privateers sent out from 
Ehode Island in this war, but they were small ves- 
sels carrying from one to three guns, and accom- 
plished nothing, save the Waterwitch, Captain T. Mil- 
ton, which seized an American vessel laden with 
seven hundred barrels of flour intended for the 


enemy. The names of the others are Hiram, Hunt- 
ress, Juno, and Swift. The Governor Gerry, a fine brig 
of eighteen guns, was launched in forty-eight days 
after the laying of her keel. She was owned by the 
Messrs. Hitch and Bradley and commanded by Cap- 
tain Joshua Hitch. In Ellis' History of New Bed- 
ford is the following notice of this craft: " She was 
a vessel of sharp model, a fast sailer, and thoroughly 
equipped for the business. Her career, however, was 
of short duration. After landing a cargo of silks 
and other valuable goods in some French port, she 
came out, July 29, 1813, and ran directly into a fleet 
of British men-of-war. Chase was given to her, and 
she surrendered only after she had carried away all 
her spars." 



FOR a privateersman to match his ship success- 
fully against a regular war vessel is sufficient dis- 
tinction in itself to mark her commander as a man 
of extraordinary daring. To be twice successful in 
such an encounter is remarkable even for the com- 
mander of an American private armed craft. A 
number of our privateersmen have won this distinc- 
tion; but few have equaled, in this particular, the 
success of Captain Thomas Boyle. He had the en- 
viable honor of twice worsting a cruiser and of sev- 
eral times putting up a good defense against govern- 
ment war craft. Even in the light of the proverbial 
daring of American privateersmen, Captain Boyle's 
career in the War of 1812 was extraordinary and 
well worthy of extended notice. He has been de- 
scribed, by one who knew him well, as being a quiet, 
unassuming man, who said little but did much; 
" always annoying the enemy wherever he chanced 
to steer, sometimes on the coasts of Spain and Por- 
tugal, and, anon, in the British and Irish Channels, 
carrying dismay and terror to British trade and com- 
merce, in defiance of their fleetest frigates and sloops 
of war, which strove again and again to capture 
him, but never were able. He appeared frequently 
to tantalize and vex them as if for mere sport, and at 
the same time convince them that he could out- 
maneuver and outsail them in any trial of seaman- 



When this commander put to sea, early in the 
war, he knew that he might be called upon to defend 
his ship against the attacks of British cruisers, but 
he did not count upon the interference of other for- 
eign naval powers. Our regular cruisers sometimes 
experienced the covert sympathy of Spanish and 
Portuguese officials at the several ports in which 
they were compelled to enter, and, as will be seen, 
our privateers, on one occasion at least, felt the full 
force of their broadsides. Captain Boyle began his 
extraordinary career in this war in the privateer 
Comet, of Baltimore. Several of our privateers had 
borne this name in the struggle for independence, 
and had met with considerable success, so it is not 
surprising that we find one of the most successful 
private armed craft in the second war with Great 
Britain bearing this lucky name. Before hostilities 
broke out this vessel, a stanch schooner, had been 
engaged in the merchant service, and, like all mer- 
chantmen of her class in those troublous times, she 
had been constructed quite as much with a view to 
speed and fighting as stowing away cargo. The 
Comet had been selected for the privateer service 
because of her splendid sailing qualities and her 
ability to carry a heavy armament. 

In her first cruise, which began in July, 1812, she 
had a desperate engagement with the British mer- 
chantman Hopewell, a ship of four hundred tons, 
carrying fourteen guns and a crew of twenty-five 
men. She was from Surinam bound for London, 
laden with seven hundred and ten hogsheads of 
sugar, fifty-four hogsheads of molasses, one hundred 
and eleven bales of cotton, and two hundred and 
sixty bags and casks of coffee and cocoa a prize well 
worth fighting for. The vessels quickly came to 
close quarters, and the English surrendered only 
after one of their number had been killed and six 
wounded nearly a third of the crew. The Hopewtell, 
with her cargo, was valued at one hundred and fifty 


thousand dollars. She had been one of a squadron 
of five vessels that hftd left Surinam, the Hopewell 
having become separated from her consorts two 
days before her capture. Another of the Comet's 
valuable prizes was the ship Henry, of four hundred 
tons, coppered to the bends and mounting four 12- 
pounders and six 6-pounders. She was from St. 
Oroix bound for London, and had on board seven 
hundred hogsheads of sugar and thirteen pipes of 
old Madeira wine, the vessel and cargo netting her 
captors more than one hundred thousand dollars. 
The Comet also took the ship John, of four hundred 
tons, carrying fourteen guns and a crew of thirty- 
five men, from Demerara for Liverpool. She was 
laden with cotton, sugar, rum, and coffee, besides 
a large quantity of old copper and dyewood, the en- 
tire cargo and vessel being worth at least one hun- 
dred and fifty thousand dollars fifty thousand dol- 
lars of which went into the Treasury of the United 
States in the form of bounty. 

In one of his prizes Captain Boyle found a copy 
of " Kecommendations by their Lordships of the Ad- 
miralty," which shows what extraordinary measures 
were resorted to by the English to check the dread- 
ful ravages wrought by American cruisers and pri- 
vateers on British commerce: " The Lords Commis- 
sioners of the Admiralty recommend that all mas- 
ters of merchant vessels do supply themselves with 
a quantity of false fires, to give the alarm on the 
approach of an enemy's cruiser in the night, or in 
the day to make the usual signals for an enemy 
being chased by or discovering a suspicious vessel; 
and, in the event of their capture being inevitable, 
either by night or by day, the masters do cause their 
gears, trusses, and halyards to be cut and unrove, 
and their vessel to be otherwise so disabled as to 
prevent their being immediately capable of making 

The Comet returned from her first cruise in No- 

232 CAPTAIN THOMAS BOYLE. 1812-1813, 

vember, 1812, and hasty preparations were made to 
refit and get her to sea again. A strong force of 
British war ships blocked Chesapeake Bay so com- 
pletely that it was some weeks before Captain Boyle 
ventured to run the gantlet. The night of Decem- 
ber 23, 1812, coming on dark and boisterous, Cap- 
tain Boyle quietly passed the word round that the 
attempt would be made that evening. Accordingly, 
soon after dark, the schooner slipped her moorings 
and sped rapidly down the bay. For several hours 
it seemed as if the venture would be entirely suc- 
cessful, for no trace of a British war craft was to be 
found, but shortly before daylight the Comet re- 
ceived a broadside from a frigate which the thick 
weather had concealed from view. Little or no at- 
tention was paid to this, and the privateer slipped 
out to sea with only a little rigging damaged and 
one spar hurt. The last was soon fished, and with 
repaired rigging the Comet headed south, and in two 
weeks was off Cape St. Eoque, and on January 9, 
1813, appeared off Pernambuco. 

On that day Captain Boyle spoke a trading vessel 
just out of the port, and learned that in a few days 
some English vessels were about to sail, with valu- 
able cargoes. This determined him to hover in that 
vicinity and make a dash for prizes. On the llth he 
spoke the Portuguese brig Wasa, from St. Michael 
for Pernambuco, and then stood on and off shore, 
maintaining a careful watch for any indication of the 
vessels leaving the harbor. At one o'clock on the af- 
ternoon of January 14th his vigilance was rewarded 
by the discovery of four sails standing out of the 
harbor. They proved to be a ship and three brigs. 
Instead of making directly for them, the privateer 
stood away so as to give them an opportunity to 
get an offing where it would be easier to cut them 

By three o'clock the vessels were upon the wind, 
standing southeast about thirty-six miles from land. 


This was the time for the privateer to strike, and, 
bearing up, she made all sail in chase. By five o'clock 
the splendid sailing qualities of the American 
schooner had enabled her to draw up on the enemy 
very fast, and by six o'clock their lead had so de- 
creased that Captain Boyle was able to make them 
out clearly. But just about this time the fourth 
sail was discovered to be a large man-of-war brig. 
This was an unexpected result of the chase; for Cap- 
tain Boyle had been informed, through reliable 
sources, that no English war craft was in port, so 
that when he saw four instead of three sails com- 
ing out he supposed that another merchant vessel 
had joined the squadron, which would only make his 
capture the more valuable. The announcement that 
the fourth vessel was a heavy war brig somewhat 
disconcerted his plan of action, which was to close 
on the merchantmen under cover of night and take 
them one after another. Captain Boyle, however, 
was not a man to be frightened off by a few cannon, 
and although he was aware that the merchantmen 
were well armed, and were capable of giving the war 
brig material assistance, he called all hands, cleared 
the decks for action, and, loading his cannon with 
round and grape shot, boldly stood for the cruiser. 

By seven o'clock the Comet had gained a position 
close abeam the brig when the American colors were 
hoisted. The brig responded with Portuguese colors, 
and her commander hailed and said that he would 
send a boat aboard. Anxious to discover if the 
stranger really were a Portuguese, and, if such, what 
her object could be in sailing as an escort to English 
merchantmen, Captain Boyle hove to. Soon a boat 
put off from the side of the brig and came along- 
side the Comet, and an officer, dressed in Portuguese 
uniform, stepped aboard. He reported that the brig 
was a regular war ship of the Portuguese Govern- 
ment, carrying a crew of one hundred and sixty-five 
men and mounting twenty 32-pounders doubtless 


an exaggeration made to intimidate the privateers- 
men. The Comet carried fourteen guns, and had a 
crew of about one hundred and twenty men. The 
officer furthermore said that the three vessels in the 
brig's company were English, and, being under the 
protection of the brig, must not be molested by the 
privateer. Captain Boyle replied that his ship was 
an American cruiser, and as such he had a right to at- 
tack the English vessels, and that if the Portuguese 
attempted to interfere the Comet would open with 
her guns. In order that there should be no misunder- 
standing in the case, Captain Boyle insisted upon the 
officer seeing his papers from the American Govern- 
ment authorizing the Comet to capture English ves- 
sels. Captain Boyle then informed the officer that 
the privateer would capture the merchantmen if she 
could; that they were upon the high seas, the com- 
mon highway of all nations; that the Portuguese 
brig had no right to interfere, and that the ocean, 
of right, belonged to America as much as any other 
power in the world. To this the Portuguese replied 
that he would be sorry if anything disagreeable took 
place; that his brig had received orders to protect 
the merchant vessels, and would do so at any hazard. 
Captain Boyle said that he also would keenly regret 
if " anything disagreeable " took place between his 
vessel and the brig, but that if the latter became 
the aggressor he would promptly fire into her before 
leaving. The officer remarked that the merchant 
vessels were well armed and strongly manned, and 
would support the brig in case of battle, to which 
the American commander replied that he valued 
their strength very little, but would soon give them 
all the opportunity they wanted to test it. 

The Portuguese then returned to his brig so as 
to give the result of his interview with Captain 
Boyle to his commander. Before he left the Comet 
he promised to return shortly. After waiting in 
vain some time for the boat to report, Captain Boyle 


spoke the Portuguese, asking if they intended send- 
ing their boat back, to which they replied that they 
would speak the convoy first, and that, in the mean- 
time, the Portuguese commander would be much 
obliged if Captain Boyle would send his boat aboard. 
Entertaining some doubt as to the sincerity of this 
request, Captain Boyle replied that he did not make 
a practice of sending his boat away at night, and 
would not do so in this case. He then avowed his 
determination of attacking the English vessels at 
once. He said this with such distinctness as to leave 
no chance for him to be misunderstood. The Comet 
accordingly began to forge ahead, and in a short 
time came up with the ship and ordered her people 
to back their main topsail. Having too much head- 
way Captain Boyle drew ahead of the ship, but find- 
ing that little or no attention was paid to his order 
he shouted that he would be alongside again in a 
few" minutes, and if by that time his order were not 
obeyed he would pour a broadside into them. 

True to his word, Captain Boyle a few minutes 
later, or at about half past eight, tacked, with the 
Portuguese man-of-war close after him, and ran 
alongside the ship. By that time one of the mer- 
chant brigs also was close to the ship, and the Comet 
opened fire on both of them. All the vessels at the 
time were carrying a press of sail, but the privateer, 
from her superior sailing qualities, was obliged to 
tack frequently in order to keep her place at close 
quarters. About this time the Portuguese man-of- 
war opened fire with round and grape shot, to which 
the Comet replied with her long torn and broadside 
guns. The bright moonlight enabled the gunners 
to take good aim; but in a short time such volumes 
of smoke collected around the vessels that it was 
difficult to distinguish one vessel from another. 
This was a circumstance that operated greatly in 
favor of the Americans, for they were sure of hitting 
an enemy no matter which vessel their shot struck, 


while the English and Portuguese soon became con- 
fused by the smoke, and were unable to distinguish 
between friend and foe. 

Caring nothing about the Portuguese except to 
keep him at a distance, Captain Boyle tenaciously 
held a position close to the British merchantmen 
and kept up a heavy fire on them. The English ves- 
sels occasionally separated, so as to give the man- 
of-war a chance at the Americans, but the gunnery 
of the Portuguese was so bad that little damage was 
occasioned by it. In this way the battle was main- 
tained until a little after midnight, when a voice 
from the ship was heard announcing that they had 
surrendered, as their vessel was cut to pieces and 
unmanageable. Shortly afterward the merchant brig 
also surrendered, being much cut up. But as Cap- 
tain Boyle was about to take possession of the latter 
the Portuguese man-of-war fired a broadside which 
came near sinking the boat in which the boarding 
party was proceeding to the prize and compelled it 
to return to the Comet. Captain Boyle then devoted 
all his attention to the man-of-war, and after some 
heavy firing induced her to sheer off, the privateer 
following and capturing the third English vessel, 
which, like its consorts, was badly cut up. 

But the victory of the Americans was still far 
from being assured; for the Portuguese, although 
driven away, persisted in remaining within gunshot, 
and threatened to come to close action at the first 
opportunity. Fully aware of his danger, Captain 
Boyle hastened to take possession of his second 
prize, the merchant brig, but in doing so passed the 
ship and ordered her commander to follow. The 
Englishmen then called out that their ship was in 
a sinking condition, having many shot holes between 
wind and water and with nearly all their rigging 
cut away. They intimated, however, that they 
would carry out the order with all possible dispatch. 
At half past one in the morning the Americans took 


possession of the merchant brig and placed a prize 
crew aboard. The Portuguese, however, followed 
the Comet closely, endeavoring to prevent her from 
securing the other vessels. This compelled Captain 
Boyle to fire an occasional broadside at the cruiser, 
so as to keep them at a more respectful distance. At 
one time they fired into the brig held by the Ameri- 
cans, but could not induce the prize crew to sur- 

By two o'clock the moon was down, and, as the 
weather blew up squally, Captain Boyle became 
separated from his prizes. The Portuguese man-of- 
war at that time was standing southward in the 
direction of the prize brig and ship and was soon 
lost to view. Captain Boyle now deemed it prudent 
to remain until daylight by his prize, which proved to 
be the brig Bowes. From the master of this ves- 
sel it was learned that the other vessels of the con- 
voy were laden with wheat. 

For the remainder of the night the Comet kept 
near her prize, and as day began to dawn the Por- 
tuguese man-of-war was discovered bearing down 
on her. The privateer promptly hove about and 
stood for her, when the war brig tacked and made 
signals for the convoy to make for the first port. 
Observing that the English ship and second brig 
seemed to be in a very distressed condition, Captain 
Boyle determined not to take possession of them, 
but to watch their maneuvers. Both of them bore 
up before the wind, making for land in company with 
the man-of-war, the last appearing to be much dam- 
aged. The Americans followed the three crippled 
ships, and could see that extraordinary exertions 
were being made to keep the ship and the brig afloat. 
With great difficulty the three vessels gained the 
harbor of Pernambuco; the ship, which proved to 
be the George, Captain Wilson, of Liverpool, with 
her masts tottering and her cargo destroyed so that 
she had to be dismantled; and the brig, the Gambia,, 


Captain Smith, of Hull, in much the same plight. 
The man-of-war was seriously damaged, besides hav- 
ing her first lieutenant and five men killed and a 
number wounded. Among the latter was her com- 
mander, who had his thigh shattered by a cannon 
ball and died .shortly after reaching Pernambuco. 
Several American gentlemen, a few months after 
this action, happened to be in Lisbon when this man- 
of-war brig was there. They visited her, and re- 
ported that she was " a very large vessel, with high 
bulwarks and a very formidable battery." 

Scarcely had the Portuguese gained the harbor 
of Pernambuco with her crippled convoy when Cap- 
tain Boyle, with his rich prize, was again scouring 
the high seas in search of British merchantmen. He 
soon had the good fortune to seize the Scotch ship 
Adelphi, of Aberdeen, of thirty-six tons, from Liver- 
pool bound for Bahia. She was laden with salt and 
drygoods, and, although well manned and armed 
with eight long 12-pounders, her commander made 
no serious resistance. The prize was manned and 
ordered to the United States. Subsequently the 
Comet was chased by the British frigate Surprise, 
which was justly regarded as being one of the swift- 
est vessels on the station. By superior seamanship 
Captain Boyle effected his escape and continued his 
successful cruise in the West Indies. 

At daylight February 6, 1813, while some twelve 
miles off the island of St. John's Captain Boyle dis- 
covered two brigs to leeward and made all sail in 
chase of them. The nearest craft was soon made out 
to be armed, and Captain Boyle sent his men to 
quarters. By six o'clock this brig hoisted English 
colors, fired a gun, but, observing that she was in 
the presence of a vessel of superior force, prompt- 
ly hauled down her flag. She was the Alexis, of 
Greenock, from Demerara, laden with sugar, rum, 
cotton, and coffee. Placing a Mr. Ball and six men 
aboard, and receiving most of the prisoners in the 


Comet, Captain Boyle ordered her to the United 
States, and made sail for the second brig. By eight 
o'clock a third brig, apparently a war ship, was dis- 
covered standing to the southeast. From his prison- 
ers Captain Boyle learned that these vessels were 
a part of a convoy of nine sail that had left Deme- 
rara for St. Thomas some days before, and that most 
of them had got into port the preceding night, but 
that the man-of-war then in sight, and named the 
Swaggerer, with two brigs, had failed to make the 

Learning this, Captain Boyle prepared to give the 
brig he had been chasing a broadside as he passed 
her, hoping to compel her to surrender before the 
man-of-war could aid her. At nine o'clock the Comet 
showed her colors, and being nearly up with the 
chase received the enemy's fire, which was promptly 
returned. The effect of this was to induce the Eng- 
lishmen to surrender, but before the Americans 
could get aboard the British master, in pursuance 
with the " recommendations " of the Admiralty, al- 
ready noted, caused his topsail and jib halyards and 
other rigging to be cut away, in addition to the dam- 
age done by the American shot which was consid- 
erable hoping thereby so to cripple his ship that it 
would be impossible for the Americans to get her 
under sufficient sail to escape the man-of-war. 

Captain Boyle saw the trick, and promptly sent 
First Officer Cashell and several men aboard to 
take possession and repair damages as rapidly as 
possible. Meantime most of the prisoners were sent 
aboard the Comet and secured below. All this time 
the man-of-war was rapidly approaching, and, her 
rigging and decks full of men, could be made out dis- 
tinctly. Seeing that he must either run or fight a 
vastly superior force, Captain Boyle sent Mr. Gilpin 
and seven men to aid Mr. Cashell, ordering them to 
get up what sail they could, and- make their way 
through the passage between the islands of St. 


John's and St. Thomas. Mr. Cashell followed out the 
order as well as he could, while the Comet advanced 
toward the Swaggerer as if to offer battle. Not that 
Captain Boyle intended to make his ship an easy prey 
for the cruiser, for he fully realized that he was in 
the presence of hopeless odds, but he hoped to divert 
the enemy's attention from his prize to himself, and 
then trust to his skill and seamanship to escape. 
The reason for thus exposing his own vessel to cap- 
ture was because the prize had an unusually valu- 
able cargo. She was the packet Dominica, of Liver- 
pool, from Demerara bound for St. Thomas, and was 
laden with rum, sugar, cotton, and coffee. 

Captain Boyle allowed the Swaggerer to come 
within long gunshot of the Comet, when he put his 
vessel through a series of maneuvers, with a view to 
test the relative speed of the two vessels. Finding 
that he could easily outpoint and outsail the Eng- 
lishman, he began to tantalize the Swaggerer by sail- 
ing under her nose, " at long balls," and tempting 
her into the continuance of a hopeless chase, during 
which time the Dominica was making the best of 
her way through the passage. Captain Boyle kept 
up these tactics until about noon, when, seeing that 
his prize was at a safe distance, he headed the Comet 
northward so as to pass round to the windward of 
St. John's, the Swaggerer still in hot pursuit. 

By two o'clock in the afternoon the Comet had so 
increased her lead that she was fully four miles to 
windward of the enemy, and no one aboard the pri- 
vateer felt the least alarm for the safety of the 
schooner. At that moment a sail was reported on 
the weather bow, and an hour later it was seen to be 
a schooner running before the wind. Changing his 
course a little, Captain Boyle ran alongside, and, 
after firing several musket shots, induced the 
stranger to surrender. She was found to be the 
schooner Jane, from Demerara to St. Thomas, laden 
with rum, sugar, and coffee. Meantime, the Swag- 


gerer had been tumbling along, far in the rear 
of the swift Comet, in a hopeless effort to over- 
take her. Her lumbering efforts to reach the swift 
privateer only afforded amusement for our officers, 
and after coolly transferring the prisoners to his 
own ship and placing Prize-Master Wild and six men 
aboard the Jane, with instructions to go through 
the passage between Tortola and St. John's, Cap- 
tain Boyle leisurely resumed his course and soon 
ran his enraged pursuer out of sight. 

Finding that he was overburdened with prison- 
ers Captain Boyle made for the United States, and 
on March 17th, in spite of the vigilance of the British 
blockading squadron, gained Chesapeake Bay and 
arrived in Baltimore. Some of the other prizes 
taken by the Comet were the schooner Messenger, from 
the West Indies, laden with rum and molasses, which 
was sent into Wilmington, North Carolina, and the 
Vigilant, a tender to the British admiral of the Wind- 
ward Island squadron, which also was sent into Wil- 
mington. Nine of the vessels taken by the Comet 
were divested of their most valuable articles and 
sunk, as there was too much risk in attempting to 
send them into port. The Comet, in 1814, had a fierce 
action with the 22-gun ship Hibernia, of eight hun- 
dred tons, having on board a large complement of 
officers and men. After a running fight lasting 
eight hours the Englishman escaped, having sus- 
tained a loss of eight men killed and thirteen 
wounded to three men killed and sixteen wounded 
on the part of the Americans. The Comet put into 
Porto Eico for repairs where she found one of her 
prizes. Being short of provisions her prize master 
asked for a supply. Instead of granting the request, 
the local authorities seized her and gave her to the 
British. In all, the Comet is credited with twenty- 
seven prizes. 

So great had been the success of Captain Boyle 
in the Comet that soon after his return from his last 

292 CAPTAIN THOMAS BOYLE. 1813-1814. 

cruise he was placed in command of the formidable 
privateer Chasseur, in which craft he achieved his 
greatest renown. This vessel probably was one of 
the best equipped and manned privateers that sailed 
in this war. She was familiarly called the Pride 
of Baltimore, mounting sixteen long 12-pounders and 
usually carrying a complement of one hundred offi- 
cers, seamen, and marines. Speaking of her sail- 
ing qualities a Baltimore paper said : " She is, per- 
haps, the most beautiful vessel that ever floated on 
the ocean. Those who have not seen our schooners 
have but little idea of her appearance. As you look 
at her ytfu may easily figure to yourself the idea that 
she is almost about to rise out of the water and fly 
into the air, seeming to sit so lightly. She has carried 
terror and alarm throughout the West Indies, as ap- 
pears by numerous extracts from the West Indian 
papers received by her. She was frequently chased 
by British vessels sent out on purpose to catch her. 
She was once pretty hard run by the frigate Bareosa; 
but sometimes, out of sheer wantonness, she affected 
to chase the enemy's men-of-war of far superior 

In his first cruise in this formidable vessel Cap- 
tain Boyle captured eighteen merchantmen, nearly 
all of them of great value. Some of these were the 
sloop Christiana, of Kilkade, Scotland; the brig Rein- 
deer, of Aberdeen; schooner Favorite, laden with 
wine; the brig Marquis of Cornwallis; the brigs Alert 
and Harmony, from Newfoundland; the ship Carl- 
bury, of London, from Jamaica, laden with cotton, 
cocoa, hides, indigo, etc. (the goods taken from this 
vessel were valued at fifty thousand dollars); the 
brigs Eclipse, Commerce, and Antelope-, the schooner 
Fox; the ships James and Theodore; and the brigs 
Atlantic and Amicus. The Chasseur brought into port 
forty-three prisoners, having released on parole one 
hundred and fifty. 

Captain Boyle's favorite cruising ground was in 

1814. "SUPERB AUDACITY." 293 

the British Channel and around the coasts of Great 
Britain. He seemed to act on the principle which 
led Farragut to immortal fame half a century later, 
namely: "The nearer you get to your enemy the 
harder you can strike." By thus " bearding the lion 
in his den " the Chasseur had some exceedingly nar- 
row escapes, but always eluded the enemy by her 
fine sailing qualities and by the superb audacity of 
her commander. At one time the privateer was 
so near a British frigate as to exchange an effective 
broadside with her, and not long afterward she was 
completely surrounded by two frigates and two 
brigs of war. In making a dash to escape, the Chas- 
seur received a shot from one of the frigates, which 
wounded three men, but in spite of the danger she 
finally eluded the enemy. 

The "superb audacity" of Captain Boyle has 
already been mentioned, not that it was peculiar to 
him, for it was shared more or less by all our priva- 
teersmen, but because it was exhibited by him on 
this cruise in a unique and emphatic manner. It 
had been the custom of British admirals on the 
American stations to issue "paper blockades," de- 
claring the entire coast of the United States to be 
blockaded. Several of these "paper blockades" 
had been recently issued by Admiral Sir John Bor- 
laise Warren and by Admiral Sir Alexander Coch- 
rane. On the strength of these foolish proclama- 
tions British cruisers were withdrawn, at will, from 
the ports blockaded and transferred to other points 
along the coast without at least in the estimation 
of the English admirals in the least invalidating 
the blockade. To show the absurdity of these procla- 
mations, Captain Boyle, while cruising in the Eng- 
lish Channel, sent by a cartel to London the follow- 
ing proclamation, which he " requested " to be 
posted in Lloyd's Coffee House: 


" By Thomas Boyle, Esquire, Commander of the Private 
Armed Brig Chasseur, etc. 


" Whereas, It has become customary with the ad- 
mirals of Great Britain, commanding small forces 
on the coast of the United States, particularly with 
Sir John Borlaise Warren and Sir Alexander Coch- 
rane, to declare all the coast of the said United 
States in a state of strict and rigorous blockade 
without possessing the power to justify such a decla- 
ration or stationing an adequate force to maintain 
said blockade; 

" I do therefore, by virtue of the power and au- 
thority in me vested (possessing sufficient force), de- 
clare all the ports, harbors, bays, creeks, rivers, in- 
lets, outlets, islands, and seacoast of the United 
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in a state of 
strict and rigorous blockade. 

"And I do further declare that I consider the 
force under my command adequate to maintain 
strictly, rigorously, and effectually the said block- 

" And I do hereby require the respective officers, 
whether captains, commanders, or commanding 
officers, under my command, employed or to be em- 
ployed, on the coasts of England, Ireland, and Scot- 
land, to pay strict attention to the execution of this 
my proclamation. 

" And I do hereby caution and forbid the ships 
and vessels of all and every nation in amity and 
peace with the United States from entering or at- 
tempting to enter, or from coming or attempting 
to come out of, any of the said ports, harbors, bays, 
creeks, rivers, inlets, outlets, islands, or seacoast 
under any pretense whatsoever. And that no per- 
son may plead ignorance of this, my proclamation, 


I have ordered the same to be made public in Eng- 
land. Given under my hand on board the Chasseur. 


" By command of the commanding officer. 
" J. J. STANBTJRY, Secretary." 

Quite in keeping with Captain Boyle's audacity 
is the memorial presented by the merchants of St. 
Vincent to Admiral Durham, in which it is stated 
that the Chasseur had blockaded them for five days, 
doing much damage, and requesting that the admiral 
would sent them at least " a heavy sloop of war." 
The frigate Bareosa was sent. The memorial gave 
a pitiful account of how the Chasseur was frequently 
chased " in vain," at one time by three cruisers to- 
gether. It then quotes a letter from Martinique 
stating that this vessel was permitted to supply her- 
self with a new boom, that the captain was treated 
very politely, that on Sunday he dined with M. Du 
Buc, the French intendant at the island, " a fine com- 
panion, truly, for the governor of such a colony as 
Martinique." The memorial further complained that 
the Cliasseur ventured within gunshot of the forts 
of St. Lucia to cut out the transport Lord Eldon, and 
probably would have done it but for the sloop of war 
Wolverine, which hove in sight; that the Chasseur 
burned two sloops "in the face of the island" 
possibly a West Indian form of the expression 
" under their noses " ; that she hoisted the Yankee 
stripes over the British ensign " and played many 
curious pranks " ; and other complaints in the same 
tenor. The Chasseur arrived in New York from her 
European cruise in October, 1814 

It was in his last cruise in this war that Captain 
Boyle gained his greatest reputation for daring and 
success on the high seas. On February 26, 1815, 
when the Chasseur was about thirty-six miles to 
windward of Havana and some twelve miles from 
land, a schooner was discovered, about eleven 


o'clock in the morning, to the northeast, apparently 
running before the wind. This was the English war 
schooner St. Lawrence, Lieutenant Henry Cranmer 
Gordon, which, as we remember, was the American 
privateer Atlas, Captain David Maffitt, captured by 
boats from Rear-Admiral Cockburn's squadron in 
Ocracoke Inlet, July 12, 1813, 1 the Atlas having been 
taken into the British service under the new name. 
The St. Lawrence proved to be a valuable addition 
to the enemy's fleet, taking an active part in their 
many expeditions along the coast and acting as a 
dispatch boat, in which service her fine sailing quali- 
ties gave her every advantage. Here we have an ad- 
mirable opportunity to compare the relative merits 
of American and British man-of-warsmen; for the 
St. Lawrence, being built and equipped by Americans, 
deprives our friends, the English, of their oft-re- 
peated cry that our vessels were better built, etc. 
The Chasseur carried fourteen guns and one hundred 
and two men, as opposed to the St. Lawrence's thir- 
teen guns and seventy-six men. Both vessels were 
schooners. When sighted by Captain Boyle, the 
St. Lawrence was bearing important dispatches and 
troops from Rear- Admiral Cockburn relative to the 
New Orleans expedition. 

Captain Boyle promptly made sail in chase, and 
soon discovered the stranger to be a war craft hav- 
ing a convoy in company, the latter being just dis- 
cernible from the masthead. By noon the Chasseur 
had perceptibly gained on the chase, which to the 
Americans appeared to be a long, narrow pilot-boat 
schooner with yellow sides. When she made out the 
Chasseur she hauled up more' to the north, evidently 
anxious to escape. At half past twelve Captain 
Boyle fired a gun and showed his colors, hoping to 
ascertain to what nation the chase belonged, but 
the latter paid no attention to the summons, and in 

1 See pp. 260-262. 


her efforts to carry a greater press of sail her fore- 
topmast was carried away. 

At the time this happened she was about three 
miles ahead. Her people promptly cleared the 
wreck away and trimmed her sails sharp by the 
wind. Owing to this accident the Chasseur drew up 
on the chase very fast, and at one o'clock the latter 
fired a stern gun and hoisted English colors. As the 
stranger showed only three ports on the side near- 
est to the Chasseur, Captain Boyle got the impression 
that she was a " running vessel " bound for Havana 
which in all probability was poorly armed and 
manned. Acting on this impression he increased his 
efforts to get alongside, confident of making short 
work of her. This mistake of the Americans was 
encouraged by the fact that very few men were seen 
on the deck of the stranger. 

As neither Captain Boyle nor his officers antici- 
pated serious fighting, the regular preparations for 
battle were not made. At 1.26 P. M. the Chasseur 
was within pistol shot of the enemy, when the latter 
suddenly triced up ten port covers, showing that 
number of guns and her decks swarming with men 
wearing the uniform of a regular British man-of- 
war. Evidently they had been carefully concealed 
during the chase. It took the enemy scarcely five 
seconds to give three cheers, run out their guns, 
and pour in a whole broadside of round shot, grape, 
and musket balls into the Chasseur. For once, at 
least, the crafty Yankee skipper had been caught 
napping. He was fairly and squarely under the 
guns of an English man-of-war, so that either prompt 
surrender or fight were the only alternatives. It did 
not take Captain Boyle an instant to decide on the 
latter course, and, although taken somewhat by sur- 
prise, he made the best of the situation and returned 
the enemy's fire with both cannon and musketry. 

Believing that his best chance for victory was at 
close quarters, Captain Boyle endeavored to board 


in the smoke of his broadside; but the Chasseur, 
having the greater speed at that moment, shot ahead 
under the stranger's lee. The latter put up his helm 
for the purpose of wearing across the privateer's 
stern, with a view of pouring in a raking fire. Per- 
ceiving the enemy's object, Captain Boyle frustrated 
the maneuver by putting his helm up also. The Eng- 
lishman now forged ahead and came within ten yards 
of the privateer, the fire of both vessels at that time 
being exceedingly destructive. At 1.40 P. M. Cap- 
tain Boyle, seizing a favorable moment, put his helm 
to starboard and called on his men to follow him 
aboard the enemy. Just as the two vessels came to- 
gether W. N. Christie, prize master, jumped aboard 
the stranger's deck, followed by a number of other 
Americans, but before they could strike a blow the 
English surrendered. 

The 8t. Lawrence, according to British accounts, 
mounted twelve short 12-pounders and one long 9- 
pounder and had a complement of seventy-five men, 
besides a number of officers, soldiers, and civilians 
as passengers, who were bound for the British squad- 
ron off New Orleans. According to the report of her 
commander she had six men killed and seventeen 
wounded, several of them mortally. According to 
American accounts the English had fifteen killed 
and twenty-five wounded. The St. Lawrence was 
found to be seriously injured in the hull, while 
scarcely a rope was left intact, such had been the 
accuracy and rapidity of the Chasseur's fire. The 
privateer also suffered considerably in her sails and 
rigging, while five of her crew were killed and eight 
wounded, among the latter being Captain Boyle him- 
self. In view of the fact that the action lasted only 
fifteen minutes these casualties reveal, better than 
words, the desperate nature of the encounter. The 
Chasseur mounted six 12-pounders and eight short 
9-pounders ten of her original sixteen 12-pounders 
having been thrown overboard when the privateer 


was chased by the British frigate Bareosa. They 
were replaced by the 9-pounders which had been 
taken from a prize. 

" From the number of hammocks, bedding, etc., 
found on board the enemy," said Captain Boyle, in 
his official report to one of the owners of the Chas- 
seur, George P. Stephenson, of Baltimore, " it led us 
to believe that many more were killed than were 
reported. The St. Lawrence fired double the weight 
of shot that we did. From her 12-pounders at close 
quarters she fired a stand of grape and two bags 
containing two hundred and twenty musket balls 
each, when from the Chasseur's 9-pounders were fired 
6- and 4-pound shot, we having no other except 
some few grape." In closing his report, Captain 
Boyle speaks in the highest terms of the gallantry 
of his first officer, John Dieter, and of the sec- 
ond and third officers, Moran and Hammond N. 

That night the masts of the St. Lawrence went by 
the board, and having no object in bringing home so 
many prisoners Captain Boyle made a cartel of his 
prize and sent the prisoners by her into Havana. 
After this gallant affair the Chasseur returned to 
the United States with her hold filled with valuable 
goods. She arrived in Baltimore, April 15, 1815, 
where it was learned that a treaty of peace had been 
signed. So well pleased were the British officers at 
the treatment they received from the Americans 
that Lieutenant Gordon issued the following me- 
morial or certificate dated: "At Sea, February 27, 
1815, on board the United States Privateer Chas- 
seur: In the event of Captain Boyle's becoming a 
prisoner of war to any British cruiser I consider it a 
tribute justly due to his humane and generous treat- 
ment of myself, the surviving officers and crew of 
His Majesty's late schooner St. Lawrence, to state 
that his obliging attention and watchful solicitude 
to preserve our effects and render us comfortable 


during the short time we were in his possession 
were such as justly entitle him to the indulgence 
and respect of every British subject. I also certify 
that his endeavors to render us comfortable and to 
secure our property were carefully seconded by all 
his officers, who did their utmost to that effect." 



ONE of the most distinguished American priva- 
teersmen in the War of 1812 was Captain Joshua 
Barney, whose career both in the United States navy 
and in the privateer service during the Revolution 
has been already noted in this work. At the close of 
the struggle for independence Barney, like all his 
brother officers in the navy, retired to private life. 
While trading in the West Indies, as commander 
of the fine coppered ship Sampson, Barney, on July 
12, 1793, fell in with three English privateers, two 
from Jamaica and one from New Providence, and 
was boarded. On looking over his papers the officers 
from the Jamaica privateers permitted him to go 
free, but the commander of the New Providence 
craft declared that the iron chest, containing eight- 
een thousand dollars in specie, was suspicious, and 
that " no American master ever had iron chests or 
dollars on board his vessel," and that he was willing 
to let the vessel go free if the money were given up. 
As Barney refused to submit to the robbery, his crew 
was taken aboard the privateer, with the exception 
of the carpenter, boatswain, and cook, and a guard 
of eleven men was placed in charge, with orders to 
follow the privateer into New Providence; notwith- 
standing the two nations were at peace. 

In the course of the afternoon Barney managed 
to communicate with his carpenter, boatswain, and 
cook, and found them ready to act with him in any 



effort to recapture their ship. The British prize 
crew behaved in the most offensive manner toward 
their victims, calling them "rebel rascals," "Yan- 
kee traitors," and threatening to " blow their brains 
out " and " to throw them overboard," at the same 
time searching the ship and helping themselves to 
articles of value after the most approved piratical 
fashion. On the evening of July 19th, five days after 
their capture, Barney learned that each of his men 
had possessed himself of a gun and bayonet, which 
they concealed in their berths, while Barney himself 
managed to secrete a brass blunderbuss and a broad- 
sword. It was not long before the Americans had 
arranged a plan of attack. The following day being 
rainy and squally, the prize crew was kept busy 
navigating the ship. At noon hour the three prize 
officers dined together on a hencoop near the main- 
mast, while their men, except the one at the helm, 
messed on the forecastle. 

This was the moment chosen by Barney to re- 
capture his ship. Stepping to the roundhouse he 
picked up his naked sword, put it under his arm, 
seized the blunderbuss, cocked it, and, joined by his 
carpenter and boatswain, who also had armed them- 
selves, advanced upon the three officers seated upon 
the quarter-deck. One of these officers immediately 
sprang upon Barney, closing with him, and endeav- 
ored to wrest the blunderbuss from his hand, but 
in the scuffle the weapon went off and lodged its 
charge of buckshot in the Englishman's right arm, 
who then yielded. Barney then knocked down the 
second officer with a blow on the head with his 
broadsword, while the third man ran below. The 
seven seamen who were on the forecastle, on hearing 
the discharge of the blunderbuss, ran into the fore- 
castle to get their arms, but before they could re- 
gain the deck the carpenter and boatswain had 
fastened the scuttle and made prisoners of them. 

The Americans were now in full possession of 


their ship, and on the prize crew promising to serve 
their new masters they were allowed to come on 
deck, one at a time, where their arms were taken 
from them and thrown overboard. The course of the 
ship was then changed to Baltimore. For many days 
the Americans maintained a most anxious watch 
over their prisoners. Barney kept the deck night 
and day, sleeping only at daytime, in an armchair, 
with his sword between his legs and pistols in his 
belt, while either the cook or boatswain stood guard 
beside him, armed with a musket, sword, and pistols. 
No one, unless specially called, was allowed to come 
abaft the mainmast under penalty of instant death. 
In this manner Barney made for the United States, 
arriving in Baltimore early in August. 

In the following December Barney was again 
trading among the West Indies, again in command 
of the Sampson. On January 2, 1794, he was seized 
by the British frigate Penelope, Captain Eowley. 
Barney was brought aboard the frigate and treated 
with great severity, and carried, with his men and 
ship, into Port Eoyal, Jamaica, where he was in- 
dicted for " piracy " and for " shooting with intent 
to kill." After a trial he was adjudged " not 
guilty." Meantime he had been seriously delayed 
in his mercantile pursuits. Barney was convinced 
that the commander of the Penelope was actuated by 
malignant feelings against him, and the circum- 
stances in the case seem to justify that belief. When 
Barney was first taken aboard the frigate, as we 
have seen, Captain Eowley treated him in a most 
brutal manner, using vulgar and unofflcer-like lan- 
guage. Barney resented this, and very properly told 
the English commander that he was a coward to 
take advantage of his position "to insult a man 
whom he would not dare to meet upon equal terms, 
at sea or on shore; that the opportunity might come 
for retaliation, when he should remember the pol- 
troon who commanded the English frigate Penelope." 


Captain Rowley interrupted this speech by ordering 
the marines to place the American between two 
guns with a sentinel over him, who had orders, given 
in a loud voice, " to blow the rascal's brains out " 
if he spoke again or attempted to leave the space 
allotted to him. 

After the vessels had reached Port Royal Captain 
Rowley showed himself in the streets every day; but 
after the trial, when Barney was again free, the com- 
mander of the Penelope kept himself aboard ship. 
Barney believed that this was done to avoid a per- 
sonal meeting. One evening, about dusk, shortly 
after the trial, Barney was walking through one of 
the streets unattended, when he suddenly heard a 
voice from the opposite side calling out: 

"Barney, take care of yourself! Look behind!" 

The American officer whirled round, and at the 
same time drew a pistol from his pocket. He was 
none too quick, for close behind him was a ruffian in 
sailor's dress with uplifted club in his hand, with 
which, but for the timely warning, he would have 
felled Barney to the ground. On the sight of the 
pistol the ruffian dropped his club and took to his 
heels. On inquiry Barney was convinced that this 
man was one of the Penelope's crew, and had been 
employed by Rowley to murder him. 

This belief was strengthened a few days later, 
when Barney, being in a coffeehouse, heard his 
name mentioned in an insulting manner, coupled 
with the expressed wish of the speaker to " meet the 
rascal." Barney walked up to the group where the 
speaker was and announced himself as the man 
sought. The speaker proved to be an officer of the 
Penelope, but seemed disinclined to gratify his de- 
sire of " meeting the rascal." Thereupon Barney 
tweaked his nose and kicked the cowardly braggart 
out of the coffeehouse, as much to the amusement 
of the many Americans present as to a number of 
British army and navy officers who had become 


disgusted with their countryman's insufferable 

In 1796 Barney entered the French navy, where 
he remained several years, attaining the rank of com- 
modore. He returned to the United States in 1801 
and again became a private citizen. Hearing of the 
Chesapeake-Leopard affair, in 1807, he at once tendered 
his services to the Government, but as that incident 
was amicably adjusted his services were not needed. 
It was not surprising, therefore, that an officer who 
had served with such distinction in both the Ameri- 
can and French navies, and also in the privateer 
service, should be eagerly sought at the beginning 
of hostilities with Great Britain in 1812. 

As soon as it was known that war had been de- 
clared a number of Baltimore merchants fitted out 
the fine schooner Rossie and tendered the command 
of her to Captain Barney. The Rossie was armed 
with ten short 12-pounders and three long guns, and 
carried a crew of one hundred and twenty men. 
Captain Barney, like the thoroughbred seaman he 
was, had got into the habit of being very careless in 
money matters. Probably few seamen of his period 
had earned so much money as he during a career 
on the ocean. Many thousand dollars had been 
credited to his account, but they were quickly scat- 
tered in a thoroughly careless manner almost as 
rapidly as received. He was not the kind of a jack 
tar to bother his head about ledgers and balance 
sheets, and when on land, or elsewhere, he ran up 
bills with appalling recklessness. 

It seems on this occasion that Captain Barney 
had incurred an indebtedness amounting to some- 
thing like one thousand dollars. Such an insignifi- 
cant affair as this gave the redoubtable sailor, who 
was accustomed to make his thousands in one cruise, 
no more concern than a mosquito bite, and he was so 
absorbed in his preparations of again getting on blue 
water that he had forgotten this trifling obligation. 


Not so, however, with his creditor. Just as the dis- 
tinguished seaman, surrounded by crowds of well- 
wishers, got to the wharf, and was about to step 
into his boat to put off to the Rossie, a deputy sheriff 
gently tapped him on the shoulder, and, expressing 
regret at being obliged to detain him, said duty com- 
pelled him to report that there was a " suspicion of 
debt" against him to the amount of one thousand 
dollars, which it would be necessary for him to clear 
up before going away. Eemembering that the " sus- 
picion " was well founded, and being a man of honor, 
Barney quietly gave himself up to the officer, who 
contented himself very civilly with the captain's 
word that he would make his appearance when 
called for. 

This, of course, postponed the contemplated 
cruise which, though short, amounted to one mil- 
lion and a half dollars in captures as Barney had no 
means of meeting the obligation. It would have been 
very easy for him to have quietly slipped aboard the 
Rossie and sailed away in spite of the sheriff, and 
to have paid the indebtedness out of the profits of 
the cruise, or to have put back into some other port 
where the sheriff could not have interfered with 
him. But this was not suited to the taste or manli- 
ness of Barney. He sauntered aimlessly about the 
town, not knowing what to do. Finally, as he was 
passing through South Street, he reached the house 
of his friend, Isaac McKim. Mr. McKim expressed 
much surprise at seeing Captain Barney, supposing 
that by that time the privateersman was at least 
half-way to the Capes. Barney explained the cause 
of the delay, upon which Mr. McKim promptly made 
good the amount, and on July 12, 1812, only twenty- 
four days after the declaration of war, the Rossie 
began a cruise of extraordinary success. 

After taking several merchantmen of great value, 
the Rossie, on August 9th, fell in with the British 
privateer ship Jeannie, of twelve guns, 6- and 9- 


pounders. After a sharp action the Jeannie sur- 
rendered. On the night of September 16th Captain 
Barney fell in with the British Government packet 
Princess Amelia, Captain Moorsom. The Americans, 
being armed principally with short guns, quickly 
came to close quarters, and as there was moonlight 
they were able to fight it out. The enemy availed 
themselves of this by concealing their sharpshooters 
in the shadows of the mast, rigging, and bulwarks, 
and firing with comparative impunity, while the 
Americans in the Rossie (that ship having no bul- 
warks) were greatly exposed. After a severe strug- 
gle, lasting about an hour, the enemy called for 
quarter, their commander, sailing master, and one 
man being killed and seven wounded (ten according 
to another account). On the part of the Americans, 
First Officer Long was mortally injured and six men 
were wounded. 

After a cruise of ninety days the Rossie returned 
to port, having captured four ships, eight brigs, 
three schooners, and three sloops, valued at over one 
million five hundred thousand dollars, including the 
cargoes. Seven of these vessels were burned at sea 
and two hundred and seventeen prisoners were 
taken, many of whom were sent to Newfoundland 
in one of the brigs. This was the first and only 
cruise of Captain Barney in this war as a privateers- 
man. Soon afterward he was again taken into the 
regular navy and performed valuable services. 1 

1 See Maclay's History of the Navy, vol. i, pp. 583-585, 



IF anything can excuse privateering it is the fact 
that so many of our private armed craft attacked 
and captured British war ships. It can not be de- 
nied that the mainspring of privateering in all coun- 
tries pretending to maritime power was the chance 
of plunder. This was the object for which traders 
were fitted, armed, and sent out at private expense, 
and it was the booty the owners of the vessel ex- 
pected to get from the enemy's commerce that was 
to reimburse them for this expenditure and risk. 
This license to " seize, burn, or destroy " ships and 
goods belonging to the enemy too frequently degen- 
erated to a degree where it was hard to distinguish 
between privateering and piracy, and in this way 
the former was brought into general disrepute. 

Privateering at the hands of American seamen 
however, can not be said to have been thus degraded' 
On the contrary, the rules of war and the laws of 
humanity were quite as strictly observed by our pri- 
vateersmen as by their brethren in the navy Fre- 
quently the sordid love of gain was gallantly thrust 
aside by these amateur man-of-warsmen, and the 
enemy's war ships were attacked when it was only 
too well known that nothing but hard blows and 
empty holds would be found; or, worse yet, in case of 
capture, brutal impressment or speedy death at the 
yardarm if the British commander should take it into 
his head that some of the captured Americans were 


deserters from the Eoyal Navy. Notwithstanding 
all these inducements to steer clear of the regular 
war ships of the enemy, there were several instances 
in which Yankee privateersmen gave battle to such 
craft, and by that act alone raised the American pri- 
vateer to a high and respectable position in the mari- 
time forces of the world. One of the most notable 
actions of this kind in the War of 1812 was that 
between the American privateer Decatur, Captain 
Dominique Diron, of Charleston, and the English 
cruiser Dominica, Lieutenant George Wilmot Bar- 

Three of the American privateers in this war 
bore the name Decatur. One was a schooner of four 
guns and twenty-three men, under Captain S. N. 
Lane, from Maine. This craft was pierced for six- 
teen guns, and the fact that she mounted only four 
indicates that her owners were unable to secure a 
larger number, and sent her to sea in the hope of fill- 
ing out her armament from prizes, as so many of our 
private armed craft had done. This Decatur was not 
very successful, and on September 3, 1814, while 
under the command of Captain E. Brown, she was 
captured by an English squadron, but subsequently 
was lost at sea. 

Another Decatur, a fine brig carrying fourteen 
guns and one hundred and sixty men, under Captain 
Nichols, of Newburyport, was one of the most suc- 
cessful privateers from the Eastern ports. She got 
to sea at the beginning of hostilities and captured 
four ships, six brigs, two barks, and two schooners. 
One of these prizes was destroyed at sea and three 
were converted into cartels. This was the privateer 
that on the night of August 18, 1812, was chased 
two hours by the United States 44-gun frigate Con- 
stitution, Captain Isaac Hull. Mistaking the frigate 
for the enemy, Captain Nichols threw overboard 
twelve of his fourteen guns; but even this extreme 
measure did not avail, for the Constitution succeeded 


in getting alongside, and on sending a boat aboard 
discovered the privateer's true character. Only the 
day before the Decatnr had been chased by the Brit- 
ish frigate Guerridre, for which Captain Hull was 
searching, but had easily outsailed her. Here we 
have an excellent illustration of the superior quali- 
ties of the American craft over that of the English, 
for the Decatur had eluded the Gnerriere, but had 
been unable to get away from the Constitution, even 
by the sacrifice of most of her guns. 

It was in reference to this incident that Rowan 
Stevens, son of the late Rear-Admiral Thomas 
Holdup Stevens, wrote: 

41 And on through the summer seas we bore, 

Until off stern Cape Clear 
Our ship fell in with a sloop-o'-war, 

A Yankee privateer. 
We hailed for news, and the sloop hove to, 

And off her skipper came, 
And boarded us in a leaky yawl 

With his wrathful cheek aflame ; 
For ' Down to the south 'ard he'd been chased 

By a powerful English ship 
That was just too slow for his flying heels, 

And just too big to whip.' 
We sent him back with a cheerful heart, 

And down to the south we swept, 
And a sharp lookout o'er the vacant sea 

Alow and aloft we kept." 

The Constitution fell in with the Guerridre on the 
following day, and the result is well known. The 
Decatur returned to port, and, after renewing her 
armament, she made a cruise in the West Indies. 
On January 16, 1813, while off Barbadoes, she was 
captured by the British frigate Surprise. Before the 
war this Decatur had been the merchantman Alert. 
Soon after hostilities broke out the Alert was cap- 
tured by the British frigate Vestal, but Mchols, who 
commanded the Alert, succeeded in recapturing his 


ship and got her into port. When seized by the Sur- 
prise, Nichols was taken to Barbadoes, where he was 
recognized by the commander of the Vestal, who 
took this opportunity to " get even " with the pri- 
vateersman who had the " presumption to recapture 
a prize of His Britannic Majesty's frigate " by con- 
fining Nichols in a room not larger than five by seven 
feet, where he was cruelly treated and then sent to 

The third and last Decatur in this war hailed from 
Charleston, South Carolina. She was a schooner 
carrying six 12-pounders and one long 18-pounder on 
a pivot amidships, and on this, her most eventful 
cruise, she carried a complement of one hundred and 
three men and boys. Captain Diron, her commander, 
was one of the most celebrated privateersmen in 
his day. In September, 1806, while in command of 
the French privateer Superbe, he made a heroic de- 
fense against the British cruisers Drake, Captain 
Kobert Nicolas, and the Pitt, Lieutenant Michael 
Fitton. For three nights and two days Diron main- 
tained a plucky fight against these vessels, and final- 
ly succeeded in running his ship ashore and escaping 
with his men. At the outbreak of the War of 1812 
he was placed in command of the privateer Decatur. 
Among his first prizes was the ship Nelson, which 
was described as " a monstrous three-decked vessel 
of six hundred tons, with an immensely valuable 
cargo." She was bound for Jamaica, and was sent 
into New Orleans, March, 1813. The Decatur also 
took the brig Thomas, of two guns, which was re- 
leased and sent into Halifax with the prisoners. 

The Dominica was a three-masted schooner carry- 
ing twelve short 12-pounders, two long 6-pounders, 
one brass 4-pounder, and a short 32-pounder on a 
pivot. She was manned by eighty-eight men and 
boys. On September 4, 1812, this cruiser captured 
the 8-gun armed schooner Providence, Captain N. 
Hopkins, of Providence. The Providence is not 


credited with any prizes, being taken shortly after 
leaving port. In the chase of ten hours, Captain 
Hopkins had thrown overboard all his guns on the 
leeward side. At the time the Dominica fell in with 
the Decatur she had under her convoy the Govern- 
ment packet ship Princess Charlotte, from St. Thomas 
for England, and the merchantman London Trader, 
from Surinam homeward bound. The Princess Char- 
lotte carried a formidable armament, and the London 
Trader also was well armed. 

The Decatur left port in the summer of 1813 on a 
general cruise against British commerce, and early 
in August she was in the track of British West India 
traders homeward bound. Early on the morning 
of August 5th, when in latitude 23 4' north, longi- 
tude 67 0' west, or a little to the south of the Ber- 
mudas, the Decatur was heading northward under 
easy sail, hoping for some prize to appear. About 
10.30 A. M. the man at the masthead reported a sail 
bearing away to the south, and shortly afterward 
another, steering in the same direction, was sighted. 
Captain Diron promptly tacked southward, with a 
view of getting the weather gauge of the strangers, 
so that, should they prove to be British cruisers, he 
would have the advantage in a chase. This precau- 
tion was rendered doubly necessary, as the fact of 
two vessels cruising in company rendered it prob- 
able that they were the enemy's sloops of war, for 
so astonishing had been the victories of the little 
American navy, and so appalled had the British pub- 
lic become at the results of the war as far as it per- 
tained to their navy, that their Lordships of the Ad- 
miralty had directed British 38-gun frigates to avoid 
the dreaded American 44-gun ships, while their 
sloops of war were to sail in pairs. 

For this reason Captain Diron approached the 
strangers with caution, knowing that there was a 
strong probability of their being a couple of Brit- 
ish sloops of war. The danger of approaching a 


stronger force, however, did not prevent the Ameri- 
cans from coming to closer range, and at 11 A. M. 
it was seen that the sails were a ship and a schooner, 
which, on making out the sails of the Decatur, had 
changed their course to the north so as to meet her. 
The three vessels slowly reduced the distance be- 
tween them, and at 12.30 P. M. the Decatur, having se- 
cured a position a little to windward, and being 
almost within gunshot, wore round and ran a little 
to leeward, upon which the schooner showed English 
colors. Captain Diron was now satisfied that he 
had an English war schooner to deal with and that 
the ship was under its protection. Half an hour 
later he wore again, still keeping the weather gauge, 
and about 1.30 P. M. the stranger fired a shot, which 
fell short. 

Knowing that the British commander had a 
heavier armament than the privateer, but believing 
that he had the greater number of men to man his 
ship, Captain Diron determined to have the fight at 
the closest quarters, and to carry the Englishman by 
boarding. Accordingly he cleared for action, sent 
his men to quarters, loaded all his guns, and hoisted 
American colors. To make sure that no man could 
leave his post and run below, Captain Diron, after 
having got all his ammunition, water, sand, etc., on 
deck, ready for instant use, ordered all the hatches 
closed. It was the plan of the Americans to get as 
close to the enemy as possible before firing a shot, 
deliver their entire broadside and a volley from their 
small arms, and then to board in the smoke. In 
order to secure the British ship alongside grappling 
irons were in readiness to be thrown aboard. 

Having made all his arrangements for the battle, 
Captain Diron about 2 P. M. wore ship, with a view 
of passing under the stern of the enemy and giving 
a raking fire, but as the schooners neared each other 
the Englishman luffed and gave his broadside, most 
of the shot passing over the American. This is only 


another indication of the overconfidence of the Brit- 
ish naval officer in this war. So confident was Lieu- 
tenant Barrett^ of taking the American that he 
ordered his gunners to aim at the Yankee's rigging 
so as to prevent her from running. But if this was 
the Englishman's motive in firing so high he soon 
had cause to repent it, for at 2.15 P. M. the Ameri- 
cans began the fire of their long torn, and as it was 
aimed with coolness and deliberation, within half- 
gunshot distance, the effect in so small a vessel was 
serious, disabling several of the Englishman's guns, 
besides injuring many men. At all events, it speed- 
ily changed the English commander's tactics, and 
the few guns that remained mounted on that side 
were now trained on the privateer's hull. 

The destructive work done by the American's 
long torn, however, had given Captain Diron the 
advantage, and, so far from evincing a disposition 
to run away, he soon discovered that that was the 
purpose of his opponent, and in order to prevent it 
he filled away so as to bring his bowsprit over the 
enemy's stern. The English endeavored to frustrate 
this by directing a whole broadside at the advancing 
Yankee, but they were too excited, or their gun- 
nery was so poor that the shot did little or no execu- 
tion. Had they taken good aim the effect of those 
guns at such a short distance would have been ter- 
rific. The Decatur could respond to this fire only 
with her long torn, but as that was discharged with 
the usual skill and coolness of American gunners 
it effected far greater damage than the English- 
man's broadside. It was now 3 P. M., and the vessels 
were so near to each other that the voices of the 
officers aboard the British ship, urging their men 
to renewed energy, could be distinctly heard. Cap- 
tain Diron then order his boarders to leave their 
guns and assemble forward, arm themselves with 
muskets and cutlasses, and be in readiness to spring 
upon the enemy's decks. 


The British at this stage of the battle evidently 
realized the seriousness of the fight, for their officers 
could be heard warning their gunners to take better 
aim, and to fire into the Yankee's hull instead of his 
rigging, as heretofore. The result of this admo- 
nition was seen in the effect of the next broadside 
which the enemy delivered. The shots hulled the 
Decatur, killed two of her crew, and materially in- 
jured her sails and rigging. This broadside did 
more damage than all the others. It also pre- 
vented Captain Diron from carrying out his plan of 
boarding; for, some of his ropes being severed, his 
sails became temporarily unmanageable. Eepairs 
were quickly made, and, though foiled in their at- 
tempt to board, the Americans renewed the action 
with their long torn and 12-pounder, believing that 
an opportunity would yet be offered them to settle 
the fight on the Englishman's deck. 

After delivering their first effective fire, the Eng- 
lishmen filled away so as to prevent the Americans 
from boarding, while Captain Diron doggedly fol- 
lowed close under their stern, determined to board at 
any cost. In this way, bow to stern, the two craft 
ran several minutes, neither side being able to main- 
tain a very effective fire. The Americans now made 
another attempt to board, but it was frustrated in 
the same manner as the first. 

But the last move made by the British schooner, 
in her endeavor to avoid boarding, gave the Decatur 
the advantage in sailing, and, persisting in following 
close in the wake of his enemy, Captain Diron finally 
had the satisfaction of seeing his craft gradually 
overhaul the Englishman. Again he called for his 
boarders, and at 3.30 P. M. the Decatur ran her bow- 
sprit over the enemy's stern, her jib boom piercing 
the Englishman's mainsail. This was the signal 
for the Americans to board, an<l while some of them 
poured in a heavy fire of musketry others, led by 
Vincent Safitt, the prize master, and Thomas Was- 


born, the quartermaster, clambered along the bow- 
sprit and sprang to the Englishman's deck. Then 
began a terrible scene of slaughter and bloodshed. 
The two crews were soon intermingled in an inex- 
tricable mass, which the narrow decks of the 
schooner kept compact as long as the struggle 
lasted. Nearly two hundred men and boys armed 
with pistols, cutlasses, and muskets were now shout- 
ing, yelling, and cheering, and slashing at each other 
in a space not more than twenty feet wide and eighty 
feet long. 

One of the first to fall on the side of the enemy 
was their gallant commander, Lieutenant Barrett^, 
a young man not more than twenty-five years old, 
who had conducted himself from the beginning of 
the fight with conspicuous gallantry, notwithstand- 
ing his contempt for the Yankee sailor. He had re- 
ceived a bad wound early in the action, two musket 
.balls having passed through the left arm. But this 
did not prevent him from remaining at his post. He 
was urged several times by his surviving officers to 
surrender, but refused to do so, avowing his deter- 
mination not to survive the loss of his vessel. A 
few moments before he received his fatal wound he 
severely injured one of the American officers with a 
saber cut. The sailing master, Isaac Backer, and 
the purser, David Brown, of the Dominica, also were 
killed, while Midshipmen William Archer and Wil- 
liam Parry were wounded. In fact, the only English 
officers not killed or wounded were the surgeon and 
one midshipman. It was not until eighteen of the 
Dominica's crew were killed and forty-two wounded 
that the few survivors were induced to surrender. 
A total of sixty killed or wounded in a crew of 
eighty-eight fully attests the desperate nature of 
the struggle and the gallantry of the men against 
whom the Americans fought. Even with this ap- 
palling percentage of killed and wounded the Eng- 
lishmen can not be reported as having surrendered 




for the Americans hauled down the colors with their 
own hands. On the part of the privateer five men 
were killed and fifteen wounded, which disparity of 
casualties is to be ascribed solely to the superior sea- 
manship of Captain Diron and the better marksman- 
ship of the Americans, both with the cannon and 
small arms. 

That this was in truth a battle royal will be 
seen by comparing it with the regular naval actions 
between sloops of war in the conflict: 

Comparative Casualties. 


















































































































While the battle between the American priva- 
teer and the British cruiser was raging the com- 
mander of the Princess Charlotte did not deem it his 
place to take part in the fight, and for over an hour 
remained a passive spectator. But as soon as it was 
seen that the American was the victor the Princess 
Charlotte tacked to the south, and by sunset had dis- 


appeared. She had left St. Thomas for England, and 
was to be under the escort of the Dominica until well 
clear of the American coast, when she had intended 
to proceed on her voyage alone. Arriving in Eng- 
land, the commander of the packet reported that he 
had left " the Dominica in hot pursuit of a Yankee 

As soon as victory was assured Captain Diron 
employed all the men he could in repairing damages; 
for capturing a ship and taking her safely into port 
when the coasts of the United States were swarming 
with British cruisers were two very distinct achieve- 
ments. Having given the dead a sailor's burial, and 
having attended the wounded (the English receiv- 
ing quite as much attention as the Americans), 
Captain Diron headed for Charleston. The Decatur 
and the Dominica made land near Georgetown, and 
running down the coast crossed Charleston bar 
safely August 20th, the Dominica appearing under 
the colors she had taken from the Providence. For 
several days before two English brigs of war had 
been hovering off the port; but, fortunately, on 
the day Captain Diron approached they had been 
drawn off in chase to the south. 

Arriving in port, Captain Diron heard that the 
British merchant ship London Trader had arrived 
safely at Savannah. This ship had been sailing in 
company with the Dominica and the Princess Char- 
lotte when they fell in with the bold Decatur. The 
London Trader made her escape while the American 
privateer was engaged in fighting the Dominica, but 
on the following day Captain Diron fell in with and 
captured her. She had on board a cargo consisting 
of two hundred and nine hogsheads of sugar, one 
hundred and forty tierces of molasses, fifty-five 
hogsheads of rum, seven hundred bags of coffee, and 
sixty bales of cotton. 

Captain George Coggeshall, who commanded sev- 
eral privateers in this war, happened to be in 


Charleston about the time the Decatur entered that 
port with her prize, and, in conversation with the 
captors and prisoners, learned many details of this 
action. He said: "The surviving officers of the 
Dominica attributed the loss of their vessel to the 
superior skill of the Decatur's crew in the use of 
musketry and to Captain Diron's adroit manner in 
maneuvering his schooner during the action, which 
rendered the Englishman's carriage guns in a man- 
ner almost useless. It was acknowledged by the 
English prisoners that during their captivity they 
were treated with great kindness and humanity by 
Captain Diron, his officers and crew, and that the 
utmost care and attention were paid to the sick and 
wounded. The crew of the captured vessel were 
all fine-looking young men. There were among them 
eight or ten boys. To see this youthful crew on their 
arrival at Charleston in their mangled condition was 
enough to freeze the blood with horror of any per- 
son not accustomed to such sanguinary scenes. 
Among the crew was a small boy, not eleven years 
old, who was twice wounded while contending for 
victory on the deck of the Dominica. I saw daily one 
of the wounded English midshipmen with his arm 
in a sling, who had the privilege of walking about 
the city on his parole of honor." 

The Dominica subsequently was fitted out as a 
privateer, carrying four guns and thirty-six men, but 
on May 23, 1814, she was captured by the British 
ship of the line Majestic. In November, 1813, the 
Decatur got to sea again, but after a cruise of eighty 
days she returned to Charleston without having 
taken one vessel. She made another venture in this 
war, but was captured June 5, 1814, by the British 
frigate PUn off Mona Passage, after a chase of 
eleven hours. 



IN the War of 1812 the Southern ports, not in- 
cluding Baltimore, sent out thirty-six privateers, 
several of which were eminently successful. The bril- 
liant achievement of the Decatur, in capturing a Brit- 
ish cruiser, has been narrated in the preceding chap- 
ter. These commerce destroyers of the South sailed 
principally from Norfolk, Wilmington (North Caro- 
lina), Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans. Of 
the six hailing from Norfolk the 1-gun schooner 
Chance, Captain W. Derick, a vessel of eighty-four 
tons; the 1-gun schooner Four Friends, Captain T. 
Rooke, of forty-six tons; the 2-gun schooner Franklin, 
Captain J. Glenn, of twenty-three tons; and the 3-gun 
schooner George Washington, Captain S. Sisson, seem 
to have accomplished little or nothing. The Dash, 
as we have seen, 1 distinguished herself by taking the 
first prize of the war, the British Government 
schooner Whiting, Lieutenant Maxcey. 

The Roger, a fine schooner of ten guns, com- 
manded by Captain E. Quarles, sailed from Norfolk 
late in 1813 or early in 1814 with a complement of 
one hundred and twenty men. She made her first 
prize in January, the schooner Henry, laden with 
fish, which was sent into Charleston. About the 
same time the Roger captured the schooner Maria 
and as she was of little value she was burned. In' 

1 See p. 


May, 1814, the Roger took the valuable ship Fortnna, 
sailing under the Russian flag with English property 
aboard. She was from Havana for Eiga with an 
assorted cargo, which was sent into Beaufort, South 
Carolina. In this cruise the Roger made a prize of a 
brig laden with rum and sugar from Jamaica for 
England, which was sent into port. In the following 
August this privateer seized the schooner Contract, 
with a cargo of salt, which was sent into North Caro- 
lina, and in December of the same year she captured 
the ship UAimable, from Havana for England, under 
Spanish colors but with British property aboard. 
The seventh and last prize of this vessel was the 
packet Windsor Castle, from Falmouth for Halifax. 
She was armed with two long 9-pounders and eight 
short guns, and had on board nine passengers and a 
crew of thirty-two men. She was sent into Norfolk. 1 

Wilmington, in the course of the war, sent out 
three privateers. The 5-gun schooner Hawk, Captain 
W. H. Trippe, got to sea in March, 1814, with a com- 
plement of sixty-eight men. She made only one 
prize, the schooner Plicebe, laden with rum and mo- 
lasses, which was sent into the privateer's home 
port. On April 26, 1814, the Hawk was captured by 
the British frigate Pique while off Silver Keys. An- 
other 5-gun schooner from Wilmington, the Lovely 
Lass, Captain J. Smith, of the United States navy, 
got to sea in 1813 with a complement of sixty men, 
and in March sent into New Orleans a schooner 
valued at ten thousand dollars. On the following 
May 4th this privateer fell in with the British 
cruiser Circee, and after a hard chase of nineteen 
hours, in which the privateer threw overboard four 
of her guns, she was taken. On this cruise the 
Lovely Lass had been out forty days. 

The 6-gun schooner Snap Dragon, Captain E. Pas- 
teur (also commanded by Captains 0. Burns and N. 

1 For action between the Roger and the Highflyer see p. 458. 

322 SOUTHERN PRIVATEERS. 1813-1814. 

Graham), was far more successful than either of 
the above, taking two barks, five brigs, and three 
schooners. In August and September, 1813, she cap- 
tured the brigs Good Intent, Venus, and Happy, the 
bark Reprisal, and the schooner Elisabeth. All of 
these vessels were destroyed at sea after the more 
valuable portions of their cargoes had been taken 
out, except one which was given up to the prisoners. 
The Snap Dragon also took the brig Ann, with a cargo 
of drygoods worth half a million dollars. These 
goods had been purchased by American merchants 
with the expectation of smuggling them into the 
United States. In the following September the Snap 
Dragon captured the brig Jane, which, being in bal- 
last, was given up to the prisoners. In April, 1814, 
this privateer seized two vessels the Linnet, laden 
with fish and oil, and another, a schooner with a 
cargo of mahogany, which was sent into Beaufort. 

New Orleans sent out six privateers, of which the 
lugger Cora, of four guns and thirty men, under Cap- 
tain J. George; the 3-gun schooner Hornet, Captain 
F. Thomas; the boat John, Captain J. Coates; and the 
1-gun schooner Victory, Captain J. Degres, accom- 
plished little or nothing. The 4-gun schooner Spy, 
Captain E. Beluche, having one hundred men aboard, 
took the valuable ship Jane, laden with mahogany, 
which was sent into New Orleans. The 3-gun 
schooner Two Friends, Captain H. Ferlat, seized the 
sloop Venus, of Jamaica, and destroyed her at sea. 

Five armed craft were sent out from Savannah, 
of which the 3-gun schooner Atas, Captain T. M. 
Newell; the 1-gun felucca Bee, Captain P. Masabeau; 
the 3-gun schooner Elizabeth, Captain R Cleary; and 
the 4-gun schooner Maria, Captain J. Beecher, made 
no captures of importance. The 1-gun schooner 
Nonpareil, Captain H. Martin, seized a schooner, but 
the Nonpareil herself was captured by the Dfoouverte 
on July 12, 1812. 

Charleston put into commission thirteen armed 


craft, besides those already mentioned. Several 
of them met with little if any success, among that* 
class being the 1-gun schooner Advocate, Captain A. 
Dougle; the 2-gun sloop Blockade, Captain J. Graves; 
the schooner Firefly, Captain W. Clewley; the 1-gun 
sloop Minerva, Captain J. Peters; and the 4-gun 
schooner Revenge. The Eagle, a schooner carrying 
one gun and forty-five men, under Captain P. Lafete, 
captured four schooners, one of which was armed 
with three guns and was manned by twenty-four 

The 3-gun schooner Hazard, Captain P. Le Char- 
trier, on February 22, 1813, had an action with the 
British privateer Caledonia, the result of which was 
peculiarly gratifying to the Americans. It seems 
that two days before this the Hazard captured the 
valuable British ship Albion, of twelve guns and 
twenty-five men. This merchantman was from 
Demerara for London, and had on board four hun- 
dred hogsheads of sugar, sixty-nine puncheons of 
rum, ten bales of cotton, and three hundred bags 
and thirty-six casks of coffee. Placing a prize crew 
aboard, with orders to make for port, Captain Le 
Chartrier resumed his cruise, supposing that his prize 
was making good headway toward the United States. 
On February 22d he fell in with the Caledonia, hav- 
ing the recaptured Albion in her company. The two 
privateers immediately began an action which re- 
sulted in the Englishman making sail in flight and 
the second capture of the Albion by the Hazard. " If 
we had had half an hour more of daylight," wrote 
Le Chartrier, " I should have brought in this priva- 
teer." In this affair the Hazard had seven men killed 
and the same number wounded. The Caledonia is 
credited with six guns and fifty men to the Hazard's 
three guns and twenty-eight men. This was the 
only capture made by the Hazard in this war. The 
Lady Madison, a schooner of one gun and forty-five 
men, under Captain A. Garrison, took two prizes in 

324 SOUTHERN PRIVATEERS. 1812-1813. 

the course of the war, one of which was given up 
to prisoners. 

The Lovely Cornelia, Captain P. Sicard, in Octo- 
ber, 1813, took sixteen prizes off Jamaica, all of 
which were destroyed at sea, except one, which was 
sent to the United States, but was wrecked on the 
coast of Florida. The 1-gun schooner Mary Ann, 
also commanded by Captain Sicard and afterward 
by Captain J. P. Chazel, took one ship, two brigs, 
and two schooners. All of these prizes were armed, 
one with twelve and another with ten guns, each 
of which carried seventeen men. On May 5, 1813, 
the Mary Ann was captured by the 18-gun sloop of 
war Sapphire, one of the Americans being killed in 
the chase. The 1-gun Poor Sailor, Captain P. Lachlin, 
and the 1-gun schooner Rapid, Captains J. Princhett, 
W. Saunderson, etc., had moderate success. The 
former, though of only forty-four tons, captured a 
ship laden with rum. The Poor Sailor was lost at 
sea in 1813. The Rapid seized a ship, a brig, and 
two schooners. The ship was the Experience, with a 
cargo worth a quarter of a million dollars. One of 
the schooners was the Searcher, of one gun and 
twenty men, which was burned. One of the brigs 
was ransomed. 

By far the most successful of the privateers that 
sailed for Charleston in this war was the 6-gun 
schooner Saucy Jack, Captain J. P. Chazel. This ves- 
sel was painted black, with a white streak along her 
side to distinguish her. While lying in Charleston 
harbor, August, 1812, preparatory to getting to sea, 
some person or persons spiked her guns. A reward 
of three hundred dollars was offered for the appre- 
hension of the perpetrators of the act, but without 
avail. This craft took in all six ships, six brigs, 
nine schooners, and two sloops. In September she 
arrived in the St. Mary's from her third cruise, in 
which she had captured the Tltrce Sisters and the 
ship Eliza, of ten guns, laden with flour and beef. 


On August 17th she took the ship Laura, laden with 
coffee, and the Three Brothers, each mounting ten 
guns. Shortly after the Laura had been taken pos- 
session of by the American prize crew she was 
chased by the British sloop of war Peruvian. To 
prevent their prize from falling into the hands of 
the enemy the American fired the Laura and took 
to their boats, ultimately arriving in the United 
States. The Peruvian subsequently was wrecked on 
Silver Keys. In December, 1813, the Saucy Jack 
made a short cruise, in which she captured the brig 
Agnes and the sloop John, the privateer arriving at 
Charleston December 20th of the same year. 

Early in 1814 this boat got to sea on her fourth 
venture, in which she made her most valuable prize, 
the Pelham, the following account of which was for- 
warded to the Secretary of the Navy: "Charleston, 
May 21, 1814. Arrived at this port yesterday the 
large and elegant ship Pelham (late Captain Boyd), 
Alexander Taylor, prize master, prize to the priva- 
teer Saucy Jack, Captain Chazel, of this port. 1 The 
Pelham was captured on the 30th of April off Cape 
Nocola Mole after a well-contested action of upward 
of two hours. She was finally carried by boarding, 
after her crew had made a stout and gallant resist- 
ance of from ten to fifteen minutes on her own 
decks. We learnt on board that the officers and 
crew of the Pelham behaved throughout the action in 
the most heroic manner, and did not yield until 
actually overpowered by numbers. The Saucy Jack 

1 Her cargo consisted of drygoods, hardware, etc., as follows : One 
hundred and ninety -four packages drygoods, consisting of India checks 
and stripes, gurrahs, romals, seersuckers, bedticks, ginghams, calicoes, 
shawls, Madras and Malabar handkerchiefs, Irish linens, lawn, shirtings, 
brown linen, duck, sheetings, osnaburgs, bagging, shoes, boots, saddlery, 
etc., three hundred packages sundries, consisting of hardware, glassware, 
mustard pickles, sauces, preserves, porter, ale, Madeira and sherry wines, 
white lead, paints, gunpowder, linseed oil, glue, ochre, twines, seines, 
hats, etc. ; one organ and one pianoforte. 


had her first officer and one man killed and the sec- 
ond officer, captain of arms, and seven men wounded. 
On board the Pelham were four killed and eleven 
wounded; among the latter was Captain Boyd, dan- 
gerously, in the breast. He, with the passengers, 
was landed at Port-au-Prince. The Pelham was 
from London bound to Port-au-Prince, and sailed 
from Portsmouth on the 9th of March with the same 
convoy, of which we have already had accounts from 
as having arrived at Halifax and bringing London 
dates to the 7th of March. Of course she brings 
nothing new. The day previous to her capture she 
had an engagement with two Carthaginian priva- 
teers, which she succeeded in beating off, but the 
courage and perseverance of the officers and crew 
of the Saucy Jack were not so easily overcome. This 
is another honorable specimen of the bravery and 
good conduct of American seamen. We hardly recol- 
lect to have seen a finer ship than the Pelham. She 
is five hundred and forty tons, coppered to the bends, 
mounts ten 12-pounders and 6-pounders and had a 
complement of from thirty-five to forty men, exclu- 
sive of several passengers. She is almost new, this 
being her second voyage, and is in every way fitted 
the most complete of any merchant ship that has 
entered our port for a long time. Her cabin is hung 
round with a great variety of large and eleganl 
colored naval prints in rich gilt frames, among 
which was a representation of the engagement be 
tween the Chesapeake and the Shannon in two views 
During her skirmish with the Saucy Jack, an 18-pounc 
shot from the long torn found its way through th( 
ship's side and demolished one of its views, with sev 
eral others." On the 31st of October, 1814, the Brit 
ish bomb ship 'Volcano, Lieutenant Price, and th< 
transports Golden Fleece and Balahoo, with some tw< 
hundred and fifty English soldiers on board, fell i] 
with this doughty privateer of Charleston. At tha 
time the vessels were off the west end of Sau DC 


mingo. Captain Chazel had been cruising in this 
vicinity with a little tender called the Packet when 
he discovered the English vessels. He gave chase, 
and, under the impression that they were merchant- 
men, he fired, about one o'clock on the following 
morning, three shots from his long torn, which fire 
the Volcano returned, at the same time shortening 
sail with her consorts so as to allow the audacious 
American to come up. The wind was light and the 
darkness rendered it difficult to make out the exact 
force of the strangers. At six o'clock in the morn- 
ing the vessels were within half gunshot. It was 
then that Captain Chazel discovered that one of the 
ships mounted sixteen guns and the other eighteen; 
but, as they did not appear to be well manned, he 
determined upon an attack. At seven o'clock he 
showed his colors and began an action with the Vol- 
cano, that craft being nearest to him. Following the 
favorite tactics of American privateersmen, Captain 
Chazel lost no time in getting alongside the enemy, 
and prepared to board on her port beam. 

Just as the Americans were about to spring to 
the enemy's decks Captain Chazel suddenly discov- 
ered that the stranger was full of soldiers. The 
order recalling boarders was promptly given, and 
the Saucy Jack sheered off and made all sail to 
escape. Two of the English ships, the Volcano and 
the Golden Fleece, gave chase, and maintained a 
spirited fire for nearly an hour, when, finding that 
they were losing ground, they desisted. When the 
Saucy Jack was close to them the British soldiers 
poured in a destructive fire of musketry, killing eight 
and wounding fifteen of the Americans. The priva- 
teer also was somewhat cut up in her hull, spars, 
and rigging. The enemy had three men killed, in- 
cluding Lieutenant W. P. Futzen, and two men 



OF the forty privateers sent out from Salem in 
the War of 1812, the America, with the possible ex- 
ception of the Grand Turk, was the most successful. 
She is reputed to have been the fastest sailing craft 
afloat during that struggle, and her numerous 
escapes from British cruisers seem to bear out this 
reputation. She was a 350-ton craft, built in 1804, 
and usually carried twenty guns and a complement 
of one hundred and fifty men. In this war she made 
twenty-six prizes, and the property taken from them 
and brought safely into port realized one million one 
hundred thousand dollars, w r hile the amount of prop- 
erty she destroyed at sea would be represented by 
a much larger figure. She thus proved to be a veri- 
table " gold mine " for her owners, the Messrs. 
George Orowninshield & Sons. 

This vessel frequently has been confused with 
the privateer America, which was commissioned by 
John Adams in 1802, and made one cruise before 
hostilities with France ceased. The Crowninshields 
took a prominent part in the struggle for American 
independence, Captain Benjamin Crowninshield hav- 
ing fought in the battle of Bunker Hill. 

It was always the good fortune of the America to 
be commanded by the ablest captain that could be 
had, to which circumstance, doubtless, is largelj 
due her uniform success. Joseph Ropes, one of the 
best-known " sea dogs " in his day, had charge ol 


this privateer on her maiden cruise, in 1812, while 
on her third and fourth ventures she was com- 
manded by James Chever, Jr., who also was said to 
have been " as slick a skipper as ever gave slip to a 
British frigate." The America returned from her 
third cruise with twelve prizes and fifty prisoners. 

In her essays against British commerce the 
America demonstrated what a terrible scourge a 
well equipped and manned commerce destroyer 
could be in the hands of a bold, skillful, and adroit 
commander. " She started on her first cruise from 
Salem Monday morning, September 7, 1812, at half 
past eleven o'clock," so her log reads. By noon she 
reached Baker's Island, and shortly afterward she 
was bowling along the ocean swells in quest of prey. 
The inauspicious omen of an accident at the begin- 
ning of the cruise so potent with most sailors 
did not seem to have seriously affected the gallant 
tars in this well-named craft, notwithstanding the 
additional significance of the accident occurring on 

On Friday, September llth, when the ship's com- 
pany had scarcely begun to get well broken into their 
new surroundings, the main topmast was carried 
away, and the five men who were on it at the time 
were thrown into the sea. The accident happened in 
a heavy gale, these men having been sent up to make 
snug. The ship was promptly sent round, a boat 
lowered, and, after much risk and danger from the 
swamping of the boat, the sailors were rescued. All 
hands were called and set to work repairing the 
damage and in a few hours the wreck was cleared, 
a new spar sent up and rigged, and the good ship 
again was bounding along the ocean. About 5.30 
A. M. Wednesday, September 23d, the America sighted 
a sail, and after a short chase captured the British 
brig James and Charlotte, commanded by a Mr. Lavitt, 
from Liverpool bound for St. John's. Her hold 
was found to be well stocked with hats, drygoods, 


coal, etc., and as the Americans stood in need of 
these articles they decided to take them. Mr. Tib- 
betts, with six men, was placed aboard the brig as 
a prize master, with orders to make for the nearest 
American port. He brought the brig safely into 

Captain Eopes was one of those commanders 
who believed that fighting was not a happy-go-lucky 
operation, but a science, which by constant exercise 
could be reduced to the nicest perfection. He there- 
fore employed much of his spare time between 
chases in exercising his men at the great guns and 
in rapid drills with small arms. The result was that, 
although his seamen were not uniformed and had 
served together only a short time, they soon became 
as dexterous in these matters as the most exacting 
man-of-warsman could desire. 

Passing the island of St. Michael October 5th, 
Captain Eopes did not see a sail of note until a 
month afterward. At 4 p. M. Friday, November 6th, 
a stranger was reported to the south, and the Amer- 
ica promptly wore round and gave chase. After a 
hard sail the stranger was brought to and boarded. 
She was found to be the British brig Benjamin, bound 
for England from Newfoundland, under the com- 
mand of James Collins. Taking the mate, with seven 
men, aboard the America, and leaving Collins, one 
man, and a boy aboard the Benjamin, Captain Eopes 
resumed his cruise, after placing Joseph Dixon, and 
eight men, aboard the brig as a prize master, with 
instructions to make the most available port in 
America north of Nantucket. 

The second week after this the America had an 
exciting chase lasting nearly two days. Early on 
the morning of November 18th a sail was reported 
to the northwest, and Captain Eopes promptly let 
out two reefs from the topsails, in spite of the stiff 
gale blowing at the time, and, setting his main top- 
gallant sail, gave chase. All that night the stranger 

1812. A HAED STERN CHASE. 331 

led the Yankee a hard stern chase, and at times dis- 
appeared from view altogether, but by keeping a 
sharp lookout, and with the aid of night glasses, the 
Americans managed to keep track of her. It was 
not until the afternoon of the following day that the 
chase was overtaken and brought to. She had 
proved to be a remarkably fast-sailing craft, and 
had given the America all she wanted to do in coming 
up with her. Captain Ropes found his prize to be 
the Ralph Nicker son, of and for London from 
Quebec, laden with lumber and having an armament 
of eight guns. John Procter and eleven men were 
placed aboard, and succeeded in running her into 

Early on the morning of the following Tuesday, 
November 24th, the America made another sail, and 
by nine o'clock found her to be the British 12-gun 
ship Hope, from St. Thomas for Glasgow, laden with 
sugar, rum, and cotton. This proved to be the most 
valuable prize thus far the privateer had taken, 
and Captain Eopes placed twelve men, under Joseph 
Valpey, in charge of her, with orders to make for the 
United States. Prom the master of the Hope the 
Americans learned that she had left a fleet of forty- 
five merchantmen only three days before, which were 
under the convoy of the sloops of war Ringdove and 
Scorpion. As the America herself was a pretty good 
match for a sloop of war singly, Captain Ropes was 
not averse to meeting one of these cruisers, al- 
though, of course, he preferred capturing the mer- 
chantmen under their escort. At all events, he made 
sail in the direction of the fleet, hoping to meet the 

Late in the afternoon of the following day a sail 
was discovered to the south standing easterly. 
Chase was promptly given, and with such success 
that within an hour a shot from one of the America's 
guns induced the stranger to heave to. She was the 
British brig Dart, carrying eight guns, also one of 


the great fleet of merchantmen. Her cargo, like 
the Hope's, consisted principally of rum and cotton. 
The America's boat, in returning from the brig with 
Mr. Sparhawk and Thomas Fuller and five prisoners, 
unfortunately got under the privateer's counter and 
foundered. The two American officers and three of 
the prisoners were saved, but the other prisoners 
were drowned. Captain Eopes kept in sight of this 
prize all that and the following day, but as there 
were no further signs of the great fleet he, at 3.30 
p. M., November 27th, signaled the brig to bear down 
under his lee. This being done, Anthony D. Caulfield, 
with eight men, was placed aboard the Dart as the 
prize master and sailed for the United States, after 
all of the brig's people, excepting the captain, a pas- 
senger, and one man, had been transferred to the 
privateer. The Dart safely arrived at Salem. 

Finding that several of his officers and a number 
of the crew were attacked with a very troublesome 
inflammation of the eyes, which could not be ac- 
counted for and which seemed to be contagious, Cap- 
tain Eopes determined to return to the United 
States. His supply of water also was getting so low 
that he was compelled to curtail the allowance to 
three and a half pints every twenty-four hours for 
a man. Even on her homeward passage the America 
was attended with good fortune. Early on the 
morning of December 16th, when near the Western 
Isles, a sail was descried to the southeast, and the 
privateer made all sail in chase. By eight o'clock 
the stranger was seen to be a brig steering east- 
ward, apparently anxious to avoid the America. 
This only whetted the desire of the Yankees to get 
alongside, and by eleven o'clock they had the chase 
under their guns. She was the English brig Eu- 
phemia, of Glasgow, bound for Gibraltar from La 
Guayra, with four hundred thousand pounds of coffee 
aboard. She carried ten guns and was manned by 
twenty-five men, under the command of John Gray. 



The next day Captain Eopes took the first and 
second officers, twenty-one men, and eight guns 
from his prize, and placing on board of her Archi- 
bald S. Dennis, with eleven men, as a prize master, 
resumed his course for the United States. The 
Euphemia in due time reached Portland, Maine. The 
America arrived in Salem harbor on the afternoon of 
January 7, 1813, having completed a highly success- 
ful cruise of one hundred and twenty-two days. Her 
six prizes were valued at one hundred and fifty-eight 
thousand dollars. 

This privateer got to sea again for her second 
cruise in January, 1813, and returned to Bath, Maine, 
in July of the same year, having made ten prizes. 
Of these two were ordered to France, three arrived 
in American ports, two were recaptured, and three 
were converted into cartels so as to get rid of the 
prisoners, of whom one hundred and thirty were pa- 
roled and thirty were brought into port. One of 
these prizes was the American ship St. Lawrence, of 
New York, which had on board a full cargo of British 
goods from Liverpool, and on her arrival in Ports- 
mouth, New Hampshire, both ship and goods were 

We get some idea of the peculiar excitement at- 
tending the ventures of privateers on the high seas 
by looking over the cargoes captured by the America 
in her second and third cruises, in the latter ven- 
ture the privateer being credited with twelve prizes. 
We have first the 220-ton brig Margaret, of ten guns, 
having one thousand hogsheads of salt aboard, from 
Cadiz bound for Newfoundland, which was carried 
into Salem; the 300-ton brig Sovereign, of and for 
Liverpool, with an assorted cargo, which was sold 
in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; the brig Brothers, 
which was sent into Fuenterrabia, Spain, and sold 
there by the consent of the officials; the 250-ton brig 
Apollo, of Poole, with one thousand hogsheads of 
salt, which shared the fate of the Margaret; the 

334 CAREER OF THE AMERICA. 1818-1815. 

schooner Hope, from St. Andrews for Barbadoes, 
laden with lumber, beef, and oil; and the schooner 
Sylph, of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, with fish, oil, etc. 
Several prizes were destroyed at sea, and a number 
were released so as to get rid of prisoners. In this 
cruise the America, commanded by James Chever, 
Jr., left Bath December 3, 1813, and returned to 
Portsmouth April, 1814. 

In her last cruise in this war the America had a 
battle with an English privateer. The Yankees 
sailed from port early in November, 1814, and made 
directly for European waters. On January 22, 1815, 
she took the schooner Arrow, from Catalonia for Lon- 
don, having on board one hundred casks of almonds 
and one thousand six hundred and fifty casks of 
hazelnuts, the prize being sent into Salem. About 
the same time the America took the valuable brig 
Adeona, with four hundred and fifty bales of broad- 
cloth, which also was sent into Salem. One of the 
America's prizes, the schooner Thistle, was recap- 
tured March 19, 1815, while off Cape Sable, by the 
British sloop of war Cossack; but on being sent into 
Halifax the Thistle was restored to the Americans, 
as her recapture had taken place after the time limit 
set by the treaty. 

It was in March that the America came across the 
English privateer Elizabeth, a ship carrying eight 
guns and thirty-one men. The advantages in weight 
of metal and number of guns and men were so much 
in favor of the Americans that in twenty minutes 
the Englishmen surrendered, but not without mak- 
ing a gallant defense, in which two of their men 
were killed and thirteen wounded. So rapid and 
effective was the America's gunnery that, in the 
brief time the actual fighting lasted, the Elizabeth 
had seven hundred shot holes including grape, 
canister, and musket shots in her hull, spars, and 
sails. After depriving her of .her armament the 
Americans returned the prize to her surviving 




people, as, being in ballast, she was of little value 
to her captors. 

Some of the other prizes taken by the Amentia 
in this cruise were the schooner Smft and the brig 
Enterprise. The Enterprise, on her passage to Amer- 
ica, was overtaken by a severe storm, and was com- 

The America, owned by George Crowninshield & Sons, the 

most noted Salein privateer. 

Prom an old painting owned by W. S. Chever, son of Captain James W. Chever, 
who commanded the America. 

pelled to put into Fayal in distress, where she was 
condemned. The following vessels were destroyed 
at sea by the America: the schooner Robert, the sloop 
Jubilee, the cutter Busy, and the schooner Black Joke. 
The America arrived at Salem from her last ven- 
ture, April 10, 1815, after a cruise of one hundred and 
thirty-four days. In the course of the war she 
netted her owners six hundred thousand dollars. 
On the close of hostilities she was tied up at Crown- 
inshield's wharf, where she remained a number of 
years. In June, 1831, she was sold at auction and 
broken up. 



ON October 20, 1813, the American privateer 
David Porter was lying at Providence, Rhode Island, 
taking in an assorted cargo for Charleston, South 
Carolina. As her name implies, she was not one of 
the first privateers to get to sea, for Captain Por- 
ter did not make his great name in naval history 
until he went on his celebrated cruise around Cape 
Horn and devastated British commerce in the Pa- 
cific, and that was in 1813-'14 The privateer which 
bore his name had been one of our famous, swift- 
sailing pilot boats, and on being converted into a war 
craft carried a long 18-pounder amidships and four 
6-pounders a somewhat light armament, but, not- 
withstanding, a serviceable one, as will be seen. Her 
commander, George Coggeshall, was one of the 
ablest captains in the privateer service. He came 
from good New England stock, and had no superior 
in the art of " handling men." It was the good for- 
tune of this craft to be officered largely by men who 
had served in the regular navy, for at that time the 
United States 44-gun frigate President, Captain John 
Eodgers, had come to this port after a long cruise, 
and some thirty of her petty officers and seamen 
enlisted in the David Porter. 

Having finished loading, Captain Coggeshall 

dropped down the river to Newport, where he waited 

for a favorable opportunity to get to sea. So great 

had been the terror inspired by American frigates 



in this war that whenever one of them was known 
to be in port the British promptly stationed several 
ships of the line and frigates for the express pur- 
pose of keeping her there. Such was the case with 
the President, and when Captain Coggeshall reached 
Newport he found that it would be extremely haz- 
ardous to run the blockade. 

Determined, however, to get to sea at any risk, 
Captain Coggeshall waited for a dark, boisterous 
night, when he could trust to his superior knowledge 
of the coast and the cover of the night to elude the 
enemy. Such an opportunity was afforded Novem- 
ber 14th, when toward evening a genuine New Eng- 
land snowstorm, from the northeast, caused the 
British officers to linger over their porter and cheese 
longer than usual, and discouraged all attempts to 
keep the deck. The shrewd Yankee skipper un- 
doubtedly was aware of this weakness of his British 
cousins, and rightly judging that most of them would 
be shivering in their bunks or hammocks, and that 
the watch on deck would be more anxiously seeking 
the lee side of a mast or cabin than watching for 
American frigates, he boldly stood out to sea and 
passed the hostile ships unchallenged. 

On the run to Charleston the David Porter was 
chased several times by British cruisers, for our 
coast was swarming with craft of that ilk, but in 
each instance she managed to escape. On November 
26th, however, the privateer had a chase that was 
too close to be pleasant. At daybreak, being in ten 
fathoms of water off Cape Eomain, Captain Cogge- 
shall discovered a British brig of war just out of gun- 
shot off his weather bow which promptly gave chase. 
The wind at the time was off the land, and the Brit- 
ish kept to windward, hoping to force the privateer 
leeward. Just out of sight of Charleston bar were 
stationed two more of the enemy's brigs of war, and 
it was the purpose of the commander of the brig 
first discovered to drive the chase into the open 


arms of his consorts. Aware of the trap that was 
being so nicely arranged for him. Captain Cogge- 
shall resolved to hug the wind, push boldly for the 
channel at the bar, and defend himself from attack 
the best he could. Knowing that this was his only 
chance of escape, the American skipper held steadily 
on his course, the enemy making strenuous efforts 
to get within striking distance. 

For four hours the vessels bowed under a press 
of canvas, the advantage being slightly with the 
privateer, when the latter gained the bar and waited 
for the leading brig to come within gunshot. In a 
few minutes the David Porter let go her long torn, 
and with such good aim that it struck the water 
near the Briton and threw spray over his port 
quarter. The brig, being armed with short guns, 
could not return the compliment without coming to 
much closer quarters, and this her commander has- 
tily decided to do; for about that time the famous 
American privateers Decatur, Captain Diron, and 
Adeline, Captain E. Craycroft, came down Charleston 
harbor in gallant style, ready to join the David Por- 
ter in a general fight with the brigs. The enemy, 
probably overestimating the force of the Americans, 
promptly squared their yards and ran to leeward. 
The Decatur had recently arrived in Charleston after 
her brilliant victory over the British war ship Do- 
minica. 1 Proceeding up the harbor while the Decatur 
and the Adeline stood to sea on another cruise, Cap- 
tain Coggeshall unloaded, and obtaining a full cargo 
sailed, December 20, 1813, for Bordeaux, France. 

As showing the profits and risks of privateering 
at that time, it will be noted that the David Porter 
had on board three hundred and thirty-one bales of 
cotton at twenty-six cents a pound, with five per 
cent, "primage." The gross freight and primage 
on this cotton was twenty-three thousand dollars, 

1 See pp. 311-819. 

1813. A SLIPPERY PRIZE. 339 

which, considering that she was a vessel of only 
two hundred tons, seems like an enormous freight 
on sea island cotton, which article at that time 
could be purchased for twelve or thirteen cents a 
pound. But this charge for freight, when the enor- 
mous expense of running a privateer, with her large 
crew, is considered, was not exorbitant. Marine 
insurance had risen to fifteen and even twenty per 
cent., and seamen's wages were thirty dollars a 

One of the risks incurred by privateers was well 
illustrated when the David Porter was ready to sail. 
This was on December 18th, but adverse winds de- 
tained her. Meantime Captain Coggeshall learned 
that Congress was expected at any moment to de- 
clare an embargo. Should the privateer be caught 
in port when this new move of the Government was 
made it would result in the bankruptcy of the 
owners of the vessel and her officers. Determined to 
avoid detention in port, Captain Coggeshall kept his 
crew confined to the ship and dropped down the 
harbor as far as possible so as to watch for the first 
favorable opportunity to get to sea. This occurred 
December 20th, and aided by a fine breeze the David 
Porter made a good run off the coast. 

Nothing worth noting occurred until about 4 p. M. 
December 27th, when, in a strong northwest gale, 
the privateer fell in with a small English vessel from 
Jamaica bound for Nova Scotia. As the seas were 
too violent to permit boarding, Captain Coggeshall 
ordered the prize to follow him on his course, intend- 
ing to examine her more closely when favored with 
better weather. The Englishmen reluctantly obeyed, 
and as night came on showed a disposition to edge 
away. Thereupon the Americans hailed, and in 
pretty sharp language told the British master that 
if he continued to lag behind, or did not carry all the 
sail his brig could bear, he would feel the effects 
of the David Porter's stern guns. This admonition 


had the desired effect, but at midnight it suddenly 
came on very dark and squally, so that Captain 
Coggeshall lost all trace of his first prize, nor did he 
see her again. 

From this time the David Porter scarcely descried 
a sail until she entered the Bay of Biscay. Knowing 
that several English war ships were stationed off 
the Bordeaux Light, Captain Coggeshall decided 
not to enter the Garonne, but to run for La Teste. 
About a week before reaching that port she was 
overtaken by a terrific gale, which began early on 
the morning of January 19, 1814, and continued 
through the following day. By eight o'clock in the 
morning of the first day it blew with the force of 
a hurricane, which raised a dangerous cross sea. 

Captain Coggeshall hove to under double-reefed 
foresail, lowered his foreyard near the deck, and 
made everything as tight as possible. About noon 
a tremendous wave struck the David Porter just 
abaft the starboard fore shrouds, crushing in one 
of the stanchions, and split open the plank-sheer 
so that it was possible to see into the hold. The ves- 
sel was thrown nearly on her beam ends, where for 
some time it was uncertain whether she would right 
herself or continue to go over. Fortunately her 
foresail split and the lee bulwark was torn away by 
the water. Being relieved of this pressure the vessel 
gradually righted, but her people had become so 
alarmed for her safety that two of her lee guns were 
thrown overboard, together with some water casks. 
After nailing tarred canvas and leather over the 
broken plank-sheer Captain Coggeshall got ready to 
veer ship, fearing that the injury the schooner had 
received might affect the foremast. A small piece 
of the mainsail accordingly was got in readiness 
for hoisting, and then, keeping her before the wind 
for a few minutes, they watched for a favorable 
opportunity to bring her to the wind on the other 

1814. IN A TERRIFIC GALE. 341 

During the time she was running before the wind, 
so her officers declare, she appeared to leap from one 
wave to another. Captain Coggeshall brought his 
craft up to the wind on the other tack without acci- 
dent, and under a small piece of canvas she lay to, 
waiting for the wind to subside. Fearing that he 
might ship another sea, Captain Coggeshall pre- 
pared a novel device for " anchoring " the head 
of his ship to the wind. Taking a square sail boom, 
spanned at each end with a four-inch rope, and with 
the small bower cable made fast to the bight of the 
span, the other end being made fast to the foremast, 
the boom was thrown overboard and was run out 
some sixty fathoms. The effect was miraculous. 
The boom broke the force of the waves and kept the 
schooner's head to the sea, so that she rode like a 
gull until the storm abated. It was not until after- 
noon of the following day that the David Porter 
again made sail, and six days later she made La 
Teste, thirty-six days from Charleston. 

Arriving at this port Captain Coggeshall learned 
that a large number of vessels had foundered in the 
gale which so nearly ended his career, and that the 
coasts for miles were strewn with wrecks. Five 
English transports had been thrown ashore near 
La Teste, most of their people perishing. 

La Teste proved to be a miserable village with 
little or no facilities for supplying ships. Besides 
this the people were greatly excited by the ap- 
proach of the allied forces to Paris and the advance 
of Lord Wellington's army toward Bordeaux, only 
thirty miles from La Teste. Such being the unset- 
tled state of affairs, Captain Coggeshall found great 
difficulty in disposing of his cargo or in securing 
supplies for another cruise. Furthermore, it was 
expected that the English would seize Bordeaux and 
La Teste, in which case the career of the David Porter 
would probably be cut short. Proceeding to Bor- 
deaux on horseback Captain Coggeshall finally in- 


duced his consignees to purchase for him one hun- 
dred casks of wine and fifty pipes of brandy, which 
they were to send in a small coasting vessel to La 
Bochelle, there to be taken aboard the David Porter. 
This port was selected as it was strongly fortified 
and probably would hold out longer than Bordeaux. 
All the American vessels had left the latter place, 
and were at the mouth of the Garonne waiting for 
an opportunity to sail for the United States or La 

Eeturning to La Teste Captain Ooggeshall made 
strenuous though futile efforts to secure enough 
supplies for his vessel, the solitary baker in the place 
being able to furnish only two bags of bread for a 
ship having a complement of thirty-five healthy men. 
It was here that Captain Coggeshall learned of the 
capture of Bordeaux by the English, and he had 
reason to congratulate himself on his forethought in 
making La Teste rather than Bordeaux. But even 
his efforts to get away from La Teste before that 
place should be seized by the English were stub- 
bornly combated by the weather and an obstinate 
pilot. Winds and tides frustrated all endeavors to 
make an offing until March 13th, when the pilot de- 
clared that five o'clock in the afternoon would be 
the time to cross the bar. Every minute the Ameri- 
cans expected to see British colors hoisted over the 
town and their ship made a prize, and as the hours 
dragged along to the time mentioned by the pilot 
they anxiously scanned the approaches 'to the vil- 
lage and harbor. At four o'clock Captain Cogge- 
shall requested the pilot to get under way, but it was 
then learned that the pilot was unwilling to go out 
at all, fearing that he might be carried to America, 
so that his wife and family would be left unpro- 
vided for. 

"Captain," he said, "if we should succeed in 
getting out it would be impossible to land me." 

In vain did Captain Coggeshall assure him that 


he would cruise in the vicinity a week if necessary 
in order to land the pilot if he would only take the 
ship over the bar. In vain did he show how the 
David Porter might become a prize of the British at 
any moment, and equally futile were his offers to 
double and treble the pilot's fees. .Finally, seeing 
that persuasion was of no avail, the American com- 
mander resolved upon strategy. To his proposi- 
tion: " If you will not go to sea, just get the schooner 
under way and go down below the fort and anchor 
there within the bar," the pilot assented. But when 
below the fort Captain Coggeshall seized a loaded 
pistol, held it to the pilot's head, and declared that 
he would shoot if the latter did not take the ship 
over the bar. The American commander also de- 
clared that if the David Porter took the ground the 
pilot would be held equally accountable. Thorough- 
ly frightened the pilot got the ship over in less than 
fifteen minutes, and a few days later he was landed 
on his native shore, while the David Porter stood off 
to the northwest. 

Scarcely had the privateer turned her head on 
her new course when she had a narrow escape from 
capture. At daylight March 15, 1814, during a 
heavy mist, the lookout reported a large ship on 
the weather quarter, and as the haze lifted it was 
seen to be a large frigate, without doubt an enemy. 
Captain Coggeshall realized the danger of his posi- 
tion, and maneuvered some ten or fifteen minutes 
in the hope of drawing the stranger down to lee- 
ward so he would be able to weather the frigate 
on one tack or the other. This was the favorite trick 
of Yankee privateersmen in this war, for if the swift- 
sailing pilot boats once succeeded in getting an 
enemy under their lee they could laugh at all efforts 
to come to close quarters. But the commander of 
the frigate evidently was aware of this maneuver, 
and instead of coming down he only kept off four 
or six points and steadily gained on the privateer, 


then only two gunshots to leeward. Eealizing the 
seriousness of the situation, Captain Coggeshall held 
a consultation of his officers, at which it was urged 
that their only chance was to run past the frigate, 
receive her fire, and take their chances in a race to 
windward. Captain Coggeshall, however, had good 
reason to believe that the David Porter would be 
crippled by the frigate's broadside, so he gave orders 
to get the square sail and studding sails ready to 
run up at the same moment. 

When all was ready the helm was put up, the 
square sail hoisted, and in an incredibly short time 
the privateer had become a square-rigged craft and 
was scudding before the wind like a cloud. The frig- 
ate's people apparently did not for a moment sup- 
pose that the privateer would attempt a run before 
the wind, and were taken somewhat by surprise in 
the schooner's sudden display of square sail, and 
thereby allowed her to gain a mile at the beginning 
of the chase. As the British skipper realized the 
nature of the maneuver he bent on his studding 
sails, and in five minutes had settled down to a de- 
termined chase. With a view of increasing the 
speed of his vessel, Captain Coggeshall ordered holes 
to be bored in all the water casks except four, and 
the water pumped into buckets and thrown against 
the sails so that the canvas would hold the wind bet- 
ter. Besides this the sand ballast was thrown over- 
board, and, thus lightened, the David Porter began to 
draw away from the enemy, so that by noon she was 
eight or ten miles in the lead, and by four in the 
afternoon the frigate was a mere speck on the 

That evening, when the enemy had been left 
safely out of sight, Captain Coggeshall examined 
the condition of his ship and found that he was in 
a critical situation. Instead of leaving four casks 
filled with water the carpenter, in the confusion of 
the moment, had left only two, and as the wind 


began to freshen Captain Coggeshall found that it 
was unsafe his schooner being relieved of her bal- 
last to haul upon the wind. The position of the 
privateer was indeed precarious. Wide off to sea 
in the Bay of Biscay, with scarcely ballast enough 
to stand upon her bottom, and having aboard only 
two casks of water and a few loaves of soft bread 
with which to feed thirty-five men, Captain Cogge- 
shall found himself confronted by grave dangers. 

Undecided as to what immediate steps to take, 
and hoping for some favorable turn in the wheel 
of fortune, he spent that night in restless anxiety. 
The wind continued light, and toward morning, 
March 16th, it was almost calm. As day began to 
dawn the lookout reported a sail, and shortly after- 
ward another, and another. And by the time the 
sun had cleared the mists away Captain Coggeshall 
found himself in the presence of a small fleet of mer- 
chantmen. Had these vessels come to the privateer 
in answer to an appeal to Heaven they could not 
have surprised the sorely distressed Americans more 
nor have carried greater joy to their hearts. So 
quietly had the fleet approached, under cover of 
night, that the Americans could scarcely believe 
their eyes when day broke. In an instant all was 
bustle, haste, and exhilaration aboard the privateer, 
and she lost no time in running alongside a merchant 
brig and capturing her. Captain Coggeshall then 
learned that the vessels were a part of a fleet bound 
for St. Sebastian, laden with provisions for the Brit- 
ish army, and that they had become separated from 
their convoy, a frigate and a sloop of war, only a 
few days before. 

After taking possession of the brig, which was 
laden principally with provisions, Captain Cogge- 
shall entered into an agreement with her master by 
which the latter was to assist, with his boats and 
men, in transporting his cargo to the schooner, after 
which he was to go free with his brig. The English- 


man reluctantly consented, and in two hours the 
united crews had placed enough provisions aboard 
the David Porter to keep her at sea three months. 
Speaking with the fervor of a starving man behold- 
ing the good things of life, Captain Coggeshall 
quaintly describes the occurrence as follows : " His 
cabin was filled with bags of hard biscuit, the staff of 
life, which we took first, and then got a fine supply of 
butter, hams, cheese, potatoes, porter, etc., and last, 
though not least, six casks of fresh water. After 
this was done the captain asked me if I would make 
him a present of the brig and the residue of the 
cargo for his own private account, to which I will- 
ingly agreed, in consideration of the assistance I had 
received from him and his men. I showed him my 
commission from the Government of the United 
States authorizing me to take, burn, sink, or destroy 
our common enemy, and satisfied him that he was a 
lawful prize to my vessel. I then gave him a certifi- 
cate stating that though his brig was a lawful prize, 
I voluntarily gave her to him as a present. This, of 
course, was only a piece of tomfoolery, but it pleased 
the captain, and we parted good friends." 

With as little delay as possible Captain Cogge- 
shall then hastened after other vessels in the fleet, 
which were making off in many directions. The light 
wind prevailing at the time did not enable them 
to get very far, and in a short time the David Porter 
had seized a ship and two brigs which had been a 
mile or two off her lee beam. The same arrange- 
ments relative to transferring cargo to the priva- 
teer as had been made with the first brig were made 
with the masters of these vessels, and in a short 
time the David Porter was nearly filled with a valu- 
able assortment of goods, consisting principally of 
provisions, officers' and soldiers' uniforms, cocked 
hats, epaulets, small arms, instruments of music, 
cloths, and general merchandise. 

While engaged in this agreeable occupation a 


fresh breeze sprang up from the southwest, and 
shortly afterward it came on dark and rainy, 
which made it difficult to continue the work of trans- 
porting goods to the privateer. At five o'clock a sail 
was reported to windward, and going aloft with a 
glass Captain Ooggeshall soon recognized her, from 
her carrying a white bleached jib, while all her other 
sails were of a dark color, as being the same frig- 
ate that had chased him only a few days before. 
This time, however, circumstances were more favor- 
able to the privateer. The schooner was in good 
trim, the men well fed, and with a prospect of large 
dividends they worked with a will. Furthermore, on- 
coming night gave the schooner every chance for es- 
cape. Coming rapidly down the frigate approached 
within five or six miles, when Captain Cogge- 
shall ran near his prizes and ordered them all to 
hoist lanterns. Strange to say not one of the British 
masters had discovered the frigate, and they obeyed 
the order, little thinking that they were inviting a 
broadside from English guns into their own sides, 
or were materially assisting in the escape of the 
Yankee skipper. But this was just what they did. 

Quickly extinguishing all his lights, Captain 
Coggeshall quietly drew away in the night, and was 
soon speeding off in another direction, while the lum- 
bering frigate, observing the group of lights, made 
directly for them. " Yery soon after this," remarked 
Captain Coggeshall, " I heard the frigate firing at 
her unfortunate countrymen, while we were partak- 
ing of an excellent supper at their expense." Two 
days later the David Porter was chased by a frigate 
and a brig of war, but had little difficulty in making 
her escape. It may here be remarked that the cap- 
tain of the David Porter's long torn was a colored 
man. This was the only gun on which Captain Cogge- 
shall placed the slightest dependence. "My only 
dependence," he wrote, "was on my 18-pounder, 
mounted amidships on a pivot." For this gun he 



selected ten of the largest and strongest men of his 
crew. Philip, the colored captain of this gun, was 
a huge man, over six feet high, and a general 


After running the frigate and the brig of war 
out of sight, Captain Coggeshall decided to land at 
Tile d'Yeu, a small island about thirty miles from 
St. Gilles, on the west coast of France, and send 
his ship home in charge of his first officer, Samuel 
Nichols, assisted by the second officer, Charles 
Coggeshall. This was done on March 24, 1814, and 
leaving her commander at this place the David Porter 
turned her head westward. Capturing several Brit- 
ish merchantmen on the passage over, this schooner 
arrived safely at Gloucester, where her ten prisoners 
were landed, the owners of the privateer receiving 
one thousand dollars from the Government as 
bounty for them. This voyage of the David Porter 
brought her owners some twenty thousand dollars, 
and shortly after her arrival in Boston she was sold 
for ten thousand dollars. 

Her new owners sent her to sea, under the com- 
mand of Captain J. Fish, in the summer of 1814, 
when she took several valuable merchantmen. 
Among them were the brig Mars, from Mogador, 
which was divested of the most valuable part of her 
cargo and ordered to America; the brig Cornwallis, 
divested and converted into a cartel; the 6-gun ship 
Tester, from Bio Janeiro for England, divested and 
ordered in; and the brig Horatio, from and for the 
same places, laden with hides and tallow, which was 
ransomed for a bill of exchange on England amount- 
ing to twenty thousand dollars. In this cruise the 
David Porter was chased nine hundred and forty 
miles by a British frigate and two sloops of war, but 
she finally eluded them and arrived safely in New 
York, September, 1814. 

On the following December 1st the David Porter 
again got to sea, and in a cruise of fifteen days took 


the brig Hiram, of Liverpool, with a cargo valued at 
one hundred thousand dollars, the Ann Dorothy, an 
American vessel in the possession of the enemy, 
and two other valuable brigs. In January, 1815, 
this privateer sailed on her last cruise, in which 
she appeared off the Western Isles, Portugal, the 
Madeiras, the Canaries, Brazil, Cayenne, Surinam, 
and through the West Indies, returning to port in 
eighty days from the time of sailing. In this pro- 
tracted search for British merchantmen the priva- 
teer made only three prizes: the 3-masted schooner 
George, which, being of little value, was released, 
the coppered brig Flying Fish, with a cargo worth 
two hundred thousand dollars, which was sent into 
New Bedford; and the brig Legal Tender, the last 
being recaptured March 7, 1815, by the 74-gun ship 
of the line Spencer. 

In her entire career during this war the David 
Porter made fifteen prizes. 



AFTER the departure of the David Porter for 
America, Captain Coggeshall remained several 
months in France attending to the interests of his 
employers. At this time, April, 1814, owing to the 
unsettled political condition of the empire and the 
near approach of the English army, there was 
scarcely an American vessel in French waters. The 
privateer schooner Kemp, Captain Jacobs, of Balti- 
more, was at Nantes, and the schooners lAon and 
Spencer were at P Orient, which about completes the 
list. The Lion, sometimes known as Lyon, was a 
fast vessel out of Salem, mounting twenty-two guns 
and commanded by Captain T. Cloutman, and others 
at different times. In her last cruise she had taken 
fifteen prizes, many of which were destroyed at sea, 
and the cargoes, which realized four hundred thou- 
sand dollars, had been sent into POrient. The 
Spencer carried only nine guns and was commanded 
by Captain G. Moore, of Philadelphia. She had 
taken two of the enemy's schooners laden with wine. 

There were a number of American gentlemen, 
commanders of privateers, supercargoes, etc., in 
France at this time, who had become well ac- 
quainted with each other, and when it was known 
that such an able commander as Coggeshall was 
there without a command they soon arranged to se- 
cure a fast-sailing vessel for him for the purpose of 
operating against British commerce. The Leo, a fine 



vessel of three hundred and twenty tons, built in 
Baltimore, then lying at FOrient, was selected. She 
was owned by Thomas Lewis, an American residing 
in Bordeaux. This privateer, earlier in the war, 
while under the command of Captain J. Hewes, had 
taken fifteen prizes, ten of which had been destroyed, 
three were ransomed for sixty thousand dollars, and 
one, the brig Alexander, was cast away near Ferrol 
while the privateer was entering that port in a gale. 
One of her prizes was an East Indiaman valued at 
two million dollars. Sixty thousand dollars in 
specie were taken out of the Indiaman and she was 
sent to America in charge of a prize crew, but was 
recaptured by an English sloop of war before gain- 
ing port. On her first passage to Prance the Leo 
captured the brig Pomona, from Lisbon for New- 
foundland, carrying eight 12-pounders. She was 
sent into Belfast, Maine. In the earlier part of the 
war Captain Hewes commanded the privateer 
Bunker Hill, a schooner of six guns, which made six 
prizes. She was captured while off our coast, 
August 21, 1812, by the British frigate Bclvidera. As 
this occurred shortly after the narrow escape of this 
frigate from Captain Kodgers 1 squadron, the com- 
mander of the Belvidera, Captain Richard Byron, un- 
doubtedly congratulated himself on his lucky cap- 
ture. A second Bunker Hill was launched toward the 
close of the war. 

On November 2, 1814, the Leo was purchased by 
an association of Americans abroad and under the 
sanction of William H. Crawford, the American 
minister to Prance, was commissioned as a priva- 
teer. It was proposed that the Leo should first make 
a short cruise in search of prizes and then proceed 
to Charleston, South Carolina, for a cargo of cotton. 
At this time there were a large number of American 
officers and seamen in several of the western ports 
of Prance supported by our Government. They were, 
as a rule, exchanged prisoners who had been de- 


tained in port by the failure of their ships to get to 
sea, and as their terms of enlistment had not expired 
they continued to draw pay from the Government. 
From these Captain Coggeshall was able to select 
a most desirable complement of officers and men. 
His first and second officers were Pierre G. Depey- 
ster and Henry Allen. Azor O. Lewis, a brother of 
the former owner of the Leo, was taken as one of the 
prize masters. These, together with eighty-six petty 
officers and seamen, constituted the privateer's com- 

So much influence was exerted over the Govern- 
ment of Louis XVIII by England that the Ameri- 
cans were fearful of being detained in port on some 
technicality, and for this reason every exertion was 
made to hasten the Leo's departure. Captain Cogge- 
shall found that her hull was in fairly good condi- 
tion, but that her sails and rigging were much out of 
repair. By working night and day, however, he was 
ready for sea with provisions enough for fifty days 
by November 6th, and dropped down near the mouth 
of the outer harbor. How well founded were the 
fears of the Americans of detention in port will be 
seen by the orders Captain Coggeshall now received 
from the local authorities, which were to return to 
his anchorage and disarm his vessel. Waiting on the 
commanding officer of the port the American was 
told that he must take out all of his firearms and 
guns except one, but the commandant jokingly 
added that this gun would be sufficient to take a 
dozen English vessels before reaching Charleston. 
Every gun aboard, accordingly, was removed except- 
ing the long brass 12-pounder amidships. In the 
night, however, Captain Coggeshall managed to 
smuggle aboard some twenty or thirty muskets, and 
with this armament he sailed on November 8th and 
steered for the chops of the British Channel. 

It was soon found that the 12-pounder was nearly 
useless in action, so that the Americans were obliged 


to depend almost entirely upon boarding. This in 
rough weather was a dangerous operation, as the 
delicately built Baltimore craft in all probability 
would have her sides crushed in should she come in 
contact with a heavy English merchant ship. It was 
this circumstance that compelled Captain Cogge- 
shall, when only a few days out, to allow a large mer- 
chantman to escape him. At six o'clock on the morn- 
ing of November 13th, while near the Scilly Islands, 
the Leo discovered a brig to leeward, and after giv- 
ing her a shot induced her to surrender. She was 
from Leghorn bound up the Channel. Taking her 
people into the Leo Captain Coggeshall placed a prize 
crew aboard, and ordered the brig to make for 

Down to this time the Leo had been experiencing 
very heavy weather, which, together with the pecul- 
iar condition of her armament, induced her com- 
mander to change his cruising ground, and heading 
southward he appeared off the coast of Spain. On 
November 18th the Leo was chased by a brig of war. 
At eight o'clock in the evening she passed a mer- 
chant brig, but Captain Coggeshall did not deem it 
prudent to stop, as the cruiser was still in hot pur- 
suit of him. By dawn of the following day all trace 
of the war brig had been lost. At 7 A. M. chase was 
given to a sail off the weather bow. Three hours 
later she was captured, and was found to be an Eng- 
lish cutter, from Teneriffe for London, laden with 
wine. Taking out twenty quarter casks of wine, 
together with her crew and some rigging, Captain 
Coggeshall caused her to be scuttled. 

On the morning of the following day the Leo 
made a sail to windward, and after four hours of 
maneuvering to get a favorable position he discov- 
ered her to be an English brig of war, armed with 
carronades, or guns having a short range. Being to 
windward, and having the superiority of sailing, Cap- 
tain Coggeshall kept just within long range of the 


enemy and then indulged in some target practice 
with his long torn. This was kept up for about an 
hour, when the Leo hauled off, and in time the 
stranger disappeared below the horizon. The Eng- 
lishmen fired some thirty or forty shots at the au- 
dacious privateer, most of them falling short, a few 
going over, and only one hitting the Leo. That shot 
passed through the bends amidships and lodged in 
the hold. The next day the Leo fell in with an Eng- 
lish frigate, which endeavored to decoy the Ameri- 
can under her guns by showing Portuguese colors; 
but the Yankees were not so easily deceived, and, 
showing the Stars and Stripes, Captain Ooggeshall 
hauled close to the wind and soon ran the frigate 
out of sight. 

During the night the weather was squally. Early 
in the morning an English schooner, from Malaga 
bound for Dublin, with a cargo of grapes, was cap- 
tured and sent to the United States in charge of a 
prize crew. In the next two days the Leo spoke sev- 
eral neutral vessels, and on the afternoon of the 
24th was chased by two frigates, but easily out- 
sailed them. At three o'clock on the afternoon of 
the 25th the Leo chased a sail, but in half an hour 
Captain Coggeshall discovered her to be a frigate, 
when he hauled upon the wind. The frigate fired a 
gun and showed American colors, to which the priva- 
teer responded with the United States ensign, but 
after a few minutes this was replaced by the English 
colors. Upon seeing this the frigate fired three or 
four shots, but finding that they fell short desisted. 
In the night Captain Coggeshall lost sight of the 

On November 26th the Leo captured an English 
ship, from Palermo for London, laden with brim- 
stone, rags, mats, etc., which was ordered to the 
United States after her crew of twenty men had 
been taken out. At one o'clock on the afternoon of 
December 1st, while the Leo was off the Kock of 


Lisbon, a large frigate was discovered making for 
her under a press of sail. The wind at this juncture 
was blowing strong from the north-northwest, and 
at times came on in squalls. Captain Ooggeshall 
steered westward so as to weather the frigate, but 
unfortunately at 2 p. M. the Leo gave a sudden lurch, 
which carried away her foremast about a third below 
its head, and a few minutes later it broke again, 
close by the board. While in this unfortunate con- 
dition Captain Coggeshall had the mortification of 
seeing an English packet probably with a large 
amount of specie aboard pass within pistol shot of 
him. As night was fast coming on, and the frigate 
still was some miles distant, Captain Coggeshall en- 
tertained great hopes of being able to make Lisbon 
before morning. Accordingly he rigged a jury fore- 
mast and made good progress until near daylight, 
when it became almost calm, at which time the Leo 
was in sight of the Eock of Lisbon. The Americans 
then resorted to towing until 1 p. M., when a light 
breeze carried them to the mouth of the Tagus and 
a Lisbon pilot was taken aboard. But unfortunate- 
ly the ebb tide began to run, and with it a British 
frigate came out of the Tagus and in a few minutes 
had the privateer under her guns, compelling the 
American to surrender. She was the 38-gun frigate 
Grramcus, Captain W. P. Wise. 

Captain Coggeshall, his officers, and men were 
taken aboard the frigate and carried to Gibraltar. 
The Americans were received by the British with 
great kindness. Captain Coggeshall said: " Captain 
Wise was a fine, gentlemanly man, and always 
treated me and my officers with respect and kind- 
ness. We messed in the wardroom. I had a state- 
room to myself, and was as comfortable and happy as 
I could be under the circumstances. I used to dine 
with Captain Wise almost daily. He frequently 
said to me: ' Don't feel depressed by captivity, but 
strive to forget that you are a prisoner, and imagine 


that you are only a passenger.' In the course of con- 
versation he said to me: ' Coggeshall, you Americans 
are a singular people as respects seamanship and 
enterprise. In England we can not build such ves- 
sels as your Baltimore clippers. We have no such 
models, and even if we had them they would be of 
no service to us, for we never could sail them as you 
do. We have now and then taken some of your 
schooners with our fast-sailing frigates. They have 
sometimes caught one of them under their lee in a 
heavy gale of wind by outcarrying them. Then, 
again, we have taken a few with our boats in calm 
weather. We are afraid of their long inasts and 
heavy spars, and soon cut down and reduce them to 
our standard. We strengthen them, put up bulk- 
heads, etc., after which they lose their sailing quali- 
ties and are of no further service as cruising vessels.' 
He also remarked that the famous privateer True 
Blooded Yankee, which had done them so much mis- 
chief, once belonged to their navy; that they cap- 
tured her from the French; that she afterward was 
retaken, and finally got into the hands of the Ameri- 
cans; that she then outsailed everything and that 
none of their cruisers could touch her, and concluded 
by adding that we were a most ingenious people." 

Captain Wise, in friendly conversation with Cap- 
tain Coggeshall, revealed a little inside history of 
American privateers as seen from the enemy's stand- 
point, which is as amusing as it is gratifying. He 
told how the 74-gun ship of the line Superb was 
cruising off the mouth of the Garonne one morning, 
when the fog lifted and revealed one of the Ameri- 
can privateer schooners as snug as a bug in a rug 
under her guns. No one aboard the huge war ship 
for a moment anticipated that the little craft, so 
completely at their mercy, would attempt to escape, 
and so no preparations were made to clear the guns. 
The quick eye of the Yankee skipper, however, noted 
the overconfidence of the English, and suddenly mak- 


ing sail, he was soon beyond the range of the war 
ship's broadside. The English, of course, made sail 
in chase, but their ship got into the wind and made 
stern board so that, before they could get sufficient 
steerageway to tack after the schooner, the little 
craft had made three or four tacks right in the 
wind's eye, and was soon out of gunshot and escaped. 
It is a singular circumstance that Captain Oogge- 
shalPs father was a first cousin of Captain Isaac 
Hull, the famous commander of the Constitution 
when she fought the Ghierrierc, while the captain of 
the defeated frigate, Richard Dacres, was a cousin 
of Captain Wise. 

Arriving at Gibraltar, Captain Coggeshall, with 
his first and second officers, Pierre G. Depeyster and 
Henry Allen, was taken to the Admiralty office to 
undergo an examination preparatory to the con- 
demnation of the Leo by the authorities. On the 
first day, the American officers were landed without 
a guard, as they gave their promise not to attempt 
to escape. On the second day, however, the Ameri- 
cans refused to give the promise, so that a lieutenant, 
a sergeant, and four marines were detailed to guard 
them. It is needless to say that the privateersmen 
had made up their minds to escape at the first op- 
portunity, and they secreted money about their per- 
sons to aid them in the attempt. 

Arriving at the Admiralty office, Captain Cogge- 
shall took a seat in the court room, waiting for the 
examination to recommence. His attention was 
soon attracted by Mr. Allen, who was standing in the 
doorway beckoning to him. Going to the door, it 
was found that the British lieutenant had left his 
post. Asking the sergeant to take a glass of wine in 
a neighboring shop, Captain Coggeshall led the way 
into the dingy place, followed by the sergeant and 
two American prisoners. While the sergeant was 
looking in another direction, Captain Coggeshall 
slipped out, passed quickly over a little park, turned 


a corner, and made his way to the Land Port Gate in 
the northwest extremity of the town. Although he 
had given the sergeant the slip, our privateersman 
was still far from being safe. He was within the 
walls of Gibraltar, each gate of which was strongly 
guarded. His dress consisted of a blue coat, black 
stock, and black cockade, with an eagle in the center. 
By removing the eagle he presented the appearance 
of an English naval officer; and relying on this sem- 
blance, he gave the sentinel a severe glance, who 
saluted respectfully, and in another moment the 
Yankee was without the walls. 

At the mole he engaged a boatman, who took him 
aboard a Norwegian galiot. To the master of this 
vessel the privateersman made known his escape 
and begged for concealment. This was generously 
granted, and a few minutes later the American ap- 
peared on deck dressed in Norwegian costume and 
with a large pipe in his mouth. From this vessel 
Captain Coggeshall went aboard a smuggling craft, 
under cover of night, and in it made his way to 
Algeciras, on the west side of Gibraltar Bay, where 
for three days he remained concealed in the home of 
the leader of the smugglers. From this place Cap- 
tain Coggeshall gradually made his way to Lisbon, 
and thence in the Portuguese brig Tres Ifermanos to 
New York, arriving there May 9, 1815. Mr. Depey- 
ster and Mr. Allen were not as fortunate in escap- 
ing. They gave the sergeant the slip as Captain 
Coggeshall had done, but on reaching the mole they 
were recaptured. 



As nearly all the Americans taken prisoners on 
the high seas by the British in this war were priva- 
teersmen, an extended notice of their treatment will 
be necessary. Only a few of our man-of-warsmen 
were captured, and in most cases they were speedily 
exchanged. At Melville Island, near Halifax, there 
were, in 1813, some twelve hundred American 
sailors, the majority of them taken in privateers. 
This island is described as being " a little above the 
surface of the water, and from its low situation is 
generally very unhealthy. Its circumference is 
about one thousand six hundred feet. On this nau- 
seous spot is situated a building of two stories, one 
hundred and thirty feet in length by forty broad, 
and of the upper room thirty feet is set apart for 
the sick. The remainder of this apartment now con- 
tains one hundred and eighty American prisoners. 
In the lower room are seven hundred and seventy 
more, cooped up to breathe the same air and generate 
diseases by this narrow confine. Three hundred and 
fifty more are near this island in a prison ship. In 
this situation, under the most rigorous treatment, 
our brethren remain. ... To heighten the poignancy 
of their reflections, they are told by the British agent, 
Miller, * to die and be damned, the king has one hun- 
dred and fifty acres of land to bury them in. 7 " 

Many instances of the petty tyranny of the offi- 
cials at this place are given. On one occasion some 



British officers were endeavoring to persuade an 
American lad to enter their navy. An officer of the 
American privateer Torktown, also a prisoner, hap- 
pened to be standing by and overheard the conver- 
sation. He said, in an undertone, " Joe, don't go." 
The boy didn't go, but for his " impertinence " in the 
matter the officer of the YorJctown was placed in the 
" black hole " on short allowance for ten days. 

No less unfeeling were the British prison officials 
at Jamaica and Barbadoes. At the former place an 
American prisoner records, under date of December 
13, 1812: " I wrote you on the 8th inst. informing you 
of my being captured by the sloop of war Fawn, Cap- 
tain Fellows, about twenty miles to northeast of 
Cape Tiberon, and carried to Jamaica, where we were 
all immediately sent to prison, and we were treated 
more like brutes than human beings. Our allow- 
ance is half a pound of horse meat, a pound and a 
half of bread that had been condemned, being more 
of worms than bread, and one gill of beans. That 
is all our allowance for twenty-four hours! When 
I was taken I had all my charts, quadrant, and 
clothes taken from me, and was not allowed even 
to ask for them. There are now in this prison ship 
four hundred and fifty-two prisoners and more arriv- 
ing daily. It is reported to-day that we are all to be 
sent to England by the fleet which is to sail in six 
days." Another correspondent writes that the Ja- 
maica prison ships are " infested with rats, centi- 
pedes, snakes, roaches, and lizards." 

From the Norfolk Herald we have the following: 
"A young man by the name of Thomas King, a 
native of Charleston, South Carolina, and formerly 
a seaman in the United States brig Vixen, having 
been paroled at Jamaica, was returning home in the 
cartel Relecca Sims, when he was impressed on board 
the 74-gun ship Poictiers, as she was entering the 
Delaware, under the pretext of his being an Eng- 
lishman. The Poictiers soon afterward was ordered 


to Bermuda, where, having arrived, young King 
was transferred to the 64-gun ship Ruly. Having 
determined to attempt his escape at the first oppor- 
tunity that offered, he purchased of one of his mess- 
mates a small pocket compass, which he always car- 
ried about him. King kept his eye on a fine, large 
sailing boat belonging to the ship, which commonly 
was kept alongside. On Sunday of July 25, 1813, 
some of the officers had taken this boat out sailing 
and returned alongside in the dusk of the evening, 
where she remained some time with her masts, sails, 
rudder, etc., all standing. This youthful adventurer, 
having secured two loaves of bread and some water, 
got into the boat, cast off the fast, and drifted along 
with the tide till he had got some distance off, when 
he hoisted sail and took a very unceremonious leave 
of the Ruby and Bermuda. Thus in an open boat, with 
scarce provisions enough to last him two days, he 
committed himself to the wind and waves to trav- 
erse an expanse of six or seven hundred miles. 
When inclined to sleep he tied the tiller to his arm, 
so that if the boat wore round it would cause a sud- 
den jerk of the tiller, which would wake him again. 
He experienced no debility or sickness from the 
scantiness of his meals, and, with fine weather near- 
ly the whole way, he made a landing about ten miles 
south of Cape Henry on Tuesday, the 3d of August, 
being a passage of nine days. The boat is seven 
tons burden, and if she could be got round here 
would probably sell for a hundred and fifty dollars." 
In a letter addressed to James Turner, the Brit- 
ish agent of prisoners of war at Port Royal, Jamaica, 
the agents for the American prisoners William 
Wescott, John McFate, and James Stevens under 
date of March 30, 1813, wrote: 

"L* Amethyst c Prison Ship. 

" SIR: Being agents for prisoners of war at this 
place, we conceive you to be the proper person to 
.address in stating the grievances under which we 


labor, relying on your attention to discover and will- 
ingness to adopt those measures which may be best 
calculated to afford us relief. This morning Lieu- 
tenant Dance, of the Fifth West India Kegiment, ac- 
companied by a guard of seven soldiers with loaded 
muskets, came on board this ship and informed us 
we must go with him to Kingston to attend a court- 
martial. Upon our replying that we did not know 
in what manner we were to be concerned in that 
court, he exclaimed, 'You must go, and if force is 
necessary to compel you, I am directed to resort to 
it! 9 Our hesitation increasing, he went on deck, and 
brought down with him four soldiers with naked 
bayonets, himself and Lieutenant Geddes (the officer 
of the guard) accompanying them with drawn 
swords. . . . We then asked Lieutenant Dance 
whether, in the event of our consenting to go, his 
officers were to escort us through the streets. He 
pledged his honor they should not, but that ourselves 
should go on one side of the street and they on the 
other. We then consented to go. But imagine what 
must have been our chagrin and disappointment 
when, on arriving at Kingston, the lieutenant, disre- 
garding his promise, careless of our feelings, and 
not respecting our character as officers two of us 
having the honor to belong to the United States 
navy wantonly and ignominiously marched us 
through the streets of the city like malefactors, 
himself going before and his soldiers following and 
walking on either side of us. In this disgraceful 
manner we were deposited in the guardhouse of the 

" In the guardhouse we remained from 8.30 A. M. 
till 1 p. M. without knowing whether our presence 
was necessary at the court-martial, without know- 
ing for what purpose we were sent to Kingston, 
without having any sustenance or refreshment of 
any kind, and without being permitted, during our 
confinement, to have any person visit us. Having 


confined us as long as they thought proper, they con- 
signed us to the care of Lieutenant Grant, who 
marched us to the boat and brought us to the prison 
ship again. You will perceive, sir, that, having eaten 
nothing the night before, we were deprived of every- 
thing for the support of nature from three o'clock 
p. M., 29th inst, till after three o'clock on the 30th 
(the time we were sent on board). But this is the 
least part of our complaint, though we leave you to 
reflect whether such treatment is becoming in the 
officers of one civilized nation at war with another. 
We are here for no crime. The fortune of war has 
placed us in your power. We have not degraded 
ourselves by any indecorous conduct since we be- 
came your prisoners. We preserve the same routine 
of duty here as we did on board our own vessels, 
Why, then, this insult this wanton abuse? Why 
take the advantage of defenseless prisoners for the 
purpose of venting your malignity and contempt for 
the American nation? Your Government can never 
approve such proceedings; the American most cer- 
tainly will not. Your Government, we are induced 
to believe, are desirous of preserving those sacred 
rules of justice and honor with regard to prisoners 
of war which they require of ours. You will there- 
fore confer a favor on us by submitting the circum- 
stances of our case to Vice-Admiral Stirling, who, 
from the kind regard he has ever paid to the peti- 
tions and remonstrances of American prisoners, 
will, we trust, use his best endeavors toward amelio- 
rating our present unhappy condition." 

Such being the treatment of Americans in Brit- 
ish prisons on this side of the Atlantic, we feel no 
surprise in discovering that they were subjected to 
even greater cruelty on the other side of the ocean. 
At the outbreak of hostilities between the United 
States and Great Britain, many of the American 
seamen who had been impressed into English war 


ships refused to serve, and for this display of patri- 
otism they were severely handled. When the news 
of the war reached Toulon, where the British fleet 
had assembled, many of our seamen refused to con- 
tinue in that service, upon which they were thrown 
into prison at Malta. 

Captain Jeduthan Upton, Jr., of Salem, who was 
a prisoner of war in this conflict, said: " The method 
of ascertaining whether these men who refused to 
serve on the ground of being Americans was to 
conduct the man to prison. He was then sever.ely 
flogged for several days successively, and if he bore 
it manfully he was given up as an American. If 
not, he was kept on duty." 

On December 16, 1812, the American 12-gun pri- 
vateer schooner Swordfish, Captain J. Evans, of Glou- 
cester, got to sea with a complement of eighty-two 
men and boys. Twelve days out she was chased by 
the British frigate Elephant. After a hard run of 
eleven hours, during which the privateer had thrown 
overboard ten of her guns, she was captured and 
sent to England. When the surgeon of the Swordfah 
was returned to the United States in a cartel, he 
reported that when he was in Portsmouth the 74- 
gun ship of the line Cornwall arrived there from a 
foreign port, having on board "thirty impressed 
American seamen; that a part of them requested to 
be considered as prisoners of war, and refused to 
do duty; that in consequence they were put in irons 
and ordered to be fed on bread and water. The 
British officer, suspecting that they had been ad- 
vised to this step by the surgeon of the Swordfish, 
ordered him between decks; nor was he again per- 
mitted his usual liberty till he embarked in the 
cartel. We are also furnished with the names of 
one hundred and thirteen Americans who had been 
impressed who have been sent on board the St. 
Antonio, prison ship; two of them had been enslaved 
eighteen years in the British service, and the others 


from a half to fifteen years. There were about eight 
hundred prisoners in the ship. It had been consid- 
ered sickly; about thirty had died. Provisions were 
bad in quality and scant: half a pound of beef and 
one and a half pounds of bread per day; two days in 
the week they had one pound pickled herring or 
other fish and one pound potatoes as their allow- 
ance. From 5 P. M to 6 A. M the prisoners were con- 
fined under hatches." 

There was no distinction between officers and 
men allowed in the prisons which they had the mis- 
fortune to enter. Officers and men of privateers 
were not permitted a parole unless the vessel in 
which they were captured carried fourteen guns at 
the time of capture. Upton was captured in the 
brig Hunter, December 23, 1812, by the British frig- 
ate PAce&e, Captain James Hillyar, who always had 
a high estimation of the American seaman espe- 
cially after his bloody encounter with Captain Por- 
ter in the Essex. Upton had thrown overboard 
twelve of his fourteen guns in the hope of escaping. 
When taken prisoner he made every effort to get a 
parole, and, although the commander of the Phcole 
most honorably abetted these endeavors, Upton re- 
mained a common prisoner. 

An American prisoner at Gibraltar wrote from 
that place: " Our fare is but scant, I can assure you. 
We are put on an allowance of six ounces per man 
a day, and that of condemned and rotten provisions 
which no American would attempt to give to his 
dogs. Every American master, mate, or seaman 
that is brought here is stripped of all his bedding. 
For my part I was deprived of my last blanket, and 
even to the most trifling things that were on board 
my ship. Captain Selby, of the brig Margarrt, had 
his shirt stripped off his back, and the last farthing 
of money he had was also taken from him, amount- 
ing to three hundred and forty-six dollars, all of 
which was done by order of the British commodore 


residing in Gibraltar. 1 Before I was confined on 
board the floating dungeon, if it had not been for the 
fresh fish that my mate and myself caught along- 
side (all my crew being taken out on their arrival 
and put under close confinement) we must certainly 
have perished." 

In August, 1813, a number of exchanged prison- 
ers arrived in Khode Island in a cartel, and the Provi- 
dence Phoenix has the following note concerning 
them: " Many of these prisoners, we learn, had been 
impressed, and some of them had been detained dur- 
ing eight long years. On being released on board 
the prison ships, after having refused to do duty in 
his Majesty's floating hells, their bodies were found 
to be scarred with wounds and their backs lacerated 
by stripes, inflicted upon them for their obstinacy in 
refusing to fight against their native country." 

An American prisoner in the prison ship Samson, 
at Chatham, England, writing on June 8, 1813, says: 
" I have been now six weeks a prisoner, during which 
time I have been on board eleven of their floating 
hells. In this ship, besides Americans, are five hun- 
dred Frenchmen, some of whom have been prison- 

1 In striking contrast to this piratical treatment we have the following 
correspondence between Captain Bainbridge, of the Constitution, and 
Lieutenant-General Hislop, who was captured in the Jdra, December, 
1812. Bainbridge wrote from San Salvador, January, 1813: "It is pain- 
ful for me to learn that you have lost the plate presented by the colony 
of Demerara. It can not be found on board here, and I candidly believe 
it is not here. If, however, it should be on board, it will be found, and 
you may rely on my sending it to England for you. If it camo from the 
Java, I have no doubt it was taken among some other baggage." On the 
same day Lieutenant-General Hislop wrote: "I am happy in being able 
to inform you that in opening the large cases of my baggage one of thorn 
has been found to contain two chests, one of which proves to be the one 
which could not be accounted for, which mistake arose from the silver- 
smith in numbering the packages. I am extremely sorry that this circum- 
stance should have occasioned you any trouble, and bog to assure you 
that I shall always remain, with esteem and respect, dear sir, 
" Your very obedient servant, 


1818-1815. "FLOATING HELLS." 367 

ers ten years. Lice, hunger, and nakedness are no 
strangers here. There are one thousand two hun- 
dred Americans and five thousand French prisoners 
in this harbor. Of the Americans about seven hun- 
dred have been heretofore impressed, and have been 
sent here from on board English men-of-war. Would 
to God I were at home again! " 

But it was at Dartmoor Prison that the greatest 
atrocities were perpetrated against American pris- 
oners. Dartmoor Prison, or Depot, as it was called 
by the English, was about fifteen miles northeast 
of Plymouth, in the County of Devonshire. " Its ap- 
pearance and situation," wrote an American who 
was confined there many months, " is the most un- 
pleasant and disagreeable imaginable. The country 
around, as far as the eye extends, is uneven, barren, 
and dreary; not a tree, shrub, or scarce a plant is 
seen for many miles round. Here and there appears 
a miserable thatched cottage whose outward ap- 
pearance well bespeaks the misery and poverty that 
dwells within. Here no cheering prospect greets 
the prisoner's eye; bountiful Nature denies all her 
sweets and seems to sympathize with the unhappy 
prisoners. The climate is rather unhealthy; the 
prisoners are almost continually cold during nine 
months of the year, owing probably to its height, 
it being upward of one thousand seven hundred feet 
from the surface of the sea." 

That the above description of the dreariness of 
Dartmoor is not exaggerated will be seen by the 
following account taken from a London periodical 
published in 1880, and referring to the condition of 
the moor in 1845: "Lost on the moor! . . . Scores 
of men had so vanished and been never heard of 
since. Natives, even, accustomed to the dangers of 
bog, crag, and fell, of overwhelming, blinding mist, 
of overtaking nightfall, of the sudden, deep, obscur- 
ing snow, and of the lost track natives alive to all 
these perils have been lost on the moor, nor any 

36g IN BRITISH PRISONS. 1813-1815. 

trace of them ever found. What wonder, then, that 
a Londoner, entirely unused to and unknowing of 
the treachery lurking in such a wild, should now 
and again share the same fate? The thing, indeed, 
was too common to create much more than a nine- 
days' astonishment." 

Dartmoor Prison, where many American prisoners were confined. 

A more scathing commentary on the brutality of 
selecting Dartmoor as a prison for American and 
French prisoners could not be had. These unfortu- 
nate men, being strangers in the country, of course 
were unaware of the dangers lurking in these bogs- 
dangers which even the natives, though " alive to 
all these perils," have not been able to pass through 
in safety. What was the object, then, in placing 
several thousands of Americans in this place? Cer- 
tainly they would endeavor to escape, but in this 
case not to liberty, but to a horrible death in the 
bogs and crags. 

Dartmoor Prison was divided into seven yards, 
with adjoining apartments for the accommodation 
of prisoners at night, each of which was expected to 
hold from one thousand one hundred to one thou- 
sand five hundred men, guarded by two thousand 

1813-1815. DARTMOOR. 369 

militia and two companies of artillery. The prisons 
were strongly built of stone and surrounded by two 
circular walls, the outer wall measuring one mile 
in circumference. On the inner wall were military 
walks for sentinels. Within this wall were iron 
palisades, distant about twenty feet and ten feet in 
height. Adjoining the outer wall were guardhouses, 
placed north, east, and south. There were separate 
yards which communicated with each other through 
a passage about one hundred and fifty feet long and 
twenty broad, guarded on each side by iron bars, 
over which, and fronting No. 4, was a military walk 
for sentinels. Opposite this passage was the market 
square. The first yard contained three prisons, viz. : 
Nos. 1, 2, and 3, of which Nos. 1 and 3 only were (in 
1814) occupied, No. 2 standing vacant. The next 
yard, No. 4, was occupied solely by blacks, and was 
separated from the other yards by two stone walls 
about fifteen feet high. The next yard contained 
prisons Nos. 5, 6, and 7, of which only Nos. 5 and 7 
were occupied, No. 6, like No. 2, standing vacant. 
North of No. 1, between the inner wall and the iron 
railings, was the place of punishment, four Ameri- 
cans having been sentenced to suffer imprisonment 
during the war for attempting to blow up prize 
ships. This prison was calculated to contain sixty 
men, who were allowed a blanket and straw bedding, 
their daily allowance of provisions being consider- 
ably reduced. Fronting No. 1 yard was a wall sepa- 
rating it from the hospital, and fronting No. 3 was 
another wall separating it from the inner barracks. 
The market square was nearly square, and accommo- 
dated five thousand persons. It was opened every 
day, Sundays excepted, at eleven o'clock and closed 
at two o'clock. At the upper part of the market 
were two stone houses one for the prisoners and 
the other for stores. The other buildings attached 
to the depot were houses for the turnkeys, clerks, 
one for the agent, and another for the doctor. 

370 IN BRITISH PRISONS. 1812-1815. 

To enter either of the prison yards from without, 
it was necessary to pass through five gates. Front- 
ing the outer gate was a reservoir of water, which 
was brought the distance of six miles by means of 
a canal. The hospital was under the superintend- 
ence of a physician, who had two assistants. Dr. 
George M'Grath, the superintendent in 1812- ? 15, was 
a man of eminence and skill, and will ever be remem- 
bered by Americans with esteem and respect. The 
sick uniformly received from him every attention. 
In 1815 there were five thousand six hundred Ameri- 
cans in this depot, nearly one half of whom were 
seamen impressed before the war. 

Great hardships were suffered by Americans in 
the winter of 1813-'14, which proved to be unusually 
cold. Through the knavery of some British officials 
many of the prisoners had been robbed of most of 
their clothing, and, though almost naked, they were 
not allowed to have any fires. It was not until April, 
1814, that these sufferers received from Mr. Beasly, 
the agent of the American Government for our sea- 
men held as prisoners in Great Britain, a suit of 
clothes and the allowance of two and a half pence 
a day. 

On the capture of the privateer RattkauaJc-c, in 
1814, her men were thrown into Dartmoor Prison. 
In keeping with his reputation for needless cruelty, 
Major Thomas George Shortland, who then com- 
manded the prison, made no distinction between the 
officers and seamen of the privateer, but placed them 
all in one apartment. Among the prisoners was the 
second officer of the Rattlesnake, who has concealed 
his identity under the initials E. G. Immediately 
upon his incarceration E. G. determined to make his 
escape, and with this object in view he secretly 
bought up all the old rope-yarn he could in the 
prison, and made from it a rope eighty feet long, the 
distance from the top window of the prison in which 
he was confined to the ground. By some ingenious 


manner he also succeeded in making a suit of uni- 
form like that worn by the sentinels, which he put 
on under a greatcoat of the same color and pattern 
worn by the guards. He had noticed that at night 
the sentinels were accustomed to carry their mus- 
kets with muzzles downward and under their great- 
coats. Not being able to procure a musket, E. G. 
secured an umbrella, which, being concealed under 
his coat, with just the end exposed to view, made a 
good representation of a musket. 

Having secured the countersign for the night 
from one of the sentinels for a consideration of six 
guineas, K. G. lowered himself from his window one 
night shortly before twelve o'clock, when the guards 
were changed. As the gates were thrown open for 
the relief guards E. G. boldly presented himself at 
the place with the other sentinels. He received the 
usual challenge: 

" Who goes there? " 

" A friend," was the answer, and on advancing 
and giving the countersign he was told to pass. At 
this moment, however, the sentinel who had betrayed 
the countersign to the prisoner for six guineas 
stepped forward and told the gaternan that the pre- 
tended sentinel was one of the prisoners. The gate- 
man at first refused to credit this, but, on the traitor 
insisting, E. G. was arrested and the deception dis- 
covered. Infuriated by this treachery, E. G. sprang 
upon the fellow and attempted to kill him with the 
only weapon he possessed, a dagger. The guards 
were too quick for him, however, and, being over- 
powered, R. G. was thrown into the " black hole " 
and kept there ten days on bread and water. 

Being 1 brought before Shortland, E. G. was asked 
how he succeeded in getting the countersign. He 
said: "If the man who gave it to me had behaved 
honorably, death could not havo wrested the secret 
from me. That is the character, sir, of the Americans 
always true to their engagements. But as the sol- 


dier evidently took my money only to deceive me, 
I will turn the scale on him and expose his conduct. 

His name is . He gave me the countersign for 

six guineas, and then basely betrayed me." Assured 
of the sentinel's treachery, Shortland had three 
hundred lashes applied to him. Again questioning 
B. G., Shortland said: "Mr. G., I respect you. You 
are a brave man, and if you will not attempt to 
escape again I will give you my honor, as a British 
officer, that you shall be exchanged and go home 
in the first cartel." Mr. G. declined this offer, de- 
claring that he would make his escape that very 

As the guards had not noticed the rope from the 
window, it seemed as if the daring prisoner might 
make good his threat, in spite of Shortland's declara- 
tion that the sentries would be doubled and a special 
watch kept on him. The guards were doubled on 
the following night, but that very circumstance 
seemed to favor the prisoner's attempt, for such an 
unusual number of sentinels caused some confusion 
at the gates when the relief came. True to his word, 
E. G. made his second attempt to escape that night. 
Having ascertained the password from another sen- 
tinel for three guineas, he descended the rope just at 
midnight, and passed through the gate with the other 
sentinels, .having given the countersign "Wells." 
He was similarly challenged and examined several 
times before getting clear of the yard. On clearing 
the prison he made for the coast, where he arrived 
almost famished. Finding an 18-foot boat on the 
beach with only one oar in it, he put to sea with the 
intention of gaining the coast of France, using his 
single oar as a rudder and his umbrella and great- 
coat as sails. When he had covered half the dis- 
tance, a brig of war passed very close to him, but 
by taking in all his " sails " and lying down in the 
bottom of the boat he avoided detection. After a 
dangerous passage of thirty-six hours he reached the 


coast of France, where he was most hospitably re- 

The brutalities with which American prisoners in 
Dartmoor were treated reached a climax on April 
6, 1815, when, under the orders of the infamous 
Shortland, the entire guard of one thousand men 
was ordered out and deliberately fired volley after 
volley into the thousands of unarmed and helpless 
men penned in the yards. The butchery took place 
on the evening of April 6th. Shortland, about nine 
o'clock that night, discovered a small hole that had 
been dug in one of the inner walls of the prison, and 
immediately jumped to the conclusion that an at- 
tempt to escape was about to be made. The exist- 
ence of the hole was known to not more than a 
quarter of the Americans confined in the place. 
Shortland had been to Plymouth that day, where he 
had been imbibing liquor until, by the time he re- 
turned to the prison, he was in a drunken fury. He 
had long nourished a spite against his prisoners, 
which unfortunately had been encouraged by the 
bold and perhaps imprudent demeanor of our men, 
who, knowing that peace had existed for several 
months, were angry at what, to them, seemed un- 
necessary delay. Most of the men, knowing Short- 
land's resentment, very naturally attributed this ad- 
ditional vexation to his personal spite for them, and 
lost no opportunity for showing him "what they 
thought of him." Shortland, in the few preceding 
months, had frequently expressed his intention of 
" fixing the damned rascals " before they got beyond 
his power, and the discovery of the hole referred to 
gave him the desired excuse for calling out the entire 

Immediately upon the rapid ringing of the alarm 
bell and the ordering out of the whole guard, the 
mass of the prisoners, who were peaceably walking 
about the yards, ignorant of the cause of these un- 
usual demonstrations, moved toward the gate, where 


alone they were able to discover what was going on. 
Glad of some excitement that would break the mo- 
notony of their imprisonment, the crowd of several 
thousand prisoners surged toward the gate, pushing 
and swaying in eager expectation of something 
new. Under the heavy pressure the gate gave way, 
forcing those in front into the second yard, while 
those behind, not knowing what had occurred, con- 
tinued to press on, pushing those nearest the gate- 
way farther into the second yard. At this moment 
Shortland came into the inner square at the head 
of his men, while a large force of guards suddenly 
appeared on the walls, ready to fire into the mass of 
human beings. The prisoners, not knowing that 
they were the object of this martial demonstration, 
continued to press forward in their eagerness to wit- 
ness what was about to happen. At this moment 
one of the friendly British guards seized an oppor- 
tunity to warn one of the prisoners that they were 
about to be fired upon, whereupon there was a rush 
of the captives to regain their proper yard, and from 
thence to their cells or prison rooms. 

Observing that Shortland was about to begin a 
butchery of the helpless prisoners, the officers of the 
garrison declined to give the orders to fire, and re- 
signed their powers to Shortland. But the drunken 
brute was not thus to be thwarted of his blood- 
thirsty purpose, and he gave the word for the sol- 
diers to fire. The command was obeyed, and several 
volleys were poured into the helpless mass of men as 
they struggled to pass through their own gate and 
regain their prisons. That the British soldiery ab- 
horred the criminal orders of Shortland is evidenced 
by the fact that a comparatively small number of 
men were struck, most of the bullets being aimed 
too high and taking effect on the surrounding walls. 
After the bulk of the prisoners had gained the cover 
of their cells Shortland led a charge, sword in hand, 
and began a " valorous " (as it seemed to him in his 


rum-crazed senses) assault on the few men who had 
not as yet gained the shelter of the cells. One of the 
prisoners afterward said, under oath: "Their mur- 
derous pursuers had now entered the yard of each 
prison, making a general charge on man and boy, 
sheathing their ruthless bayonets in the bodies of 
the retreating prisoners, and completing the work of 
destruction by the discharge of another volley of 
musketry in the backs of the hindmost, who were 
forcing their passage over the wounded into their 
prison. Nor did they stop here, but patroled the yard 
to find some solitary fugitive who had sought safety 
in flight. One poor, affrighted wretch had fled close 
to the wall of one of the prisons, fearing to move lest 
he should meet his death. Those demons of hell dis- 
covered him, and the bloody Shortland gave the fatal 
order to fire. In vain the trembling victim fell on his 
knees, and in that imploring attitude besought their 
compassion, begged them to spare a life almost ex- 
hausted by suffering and confinement. He pleaded 
to brutes; he appealed to tigers. 'Fire!' cried 
Shortland, and several balls were discharged into 
his bosom. 

" One circumstance that occurred during the 
massacre ought not to be omitted. One of the Brit- 
ish soldiers belonging to the same regiment that per- 
formed this work was lighting a lamp at the door of 
prison No. 3 when the carnage commenced, and in 
the hurry of retreat he was forced inside among the 
wounded and exasperated prisoners. In the height 
of their resentment the eye of vengeance was for a 
moment directed to the only enemy that chance 
had thus thrown in their power. It was but for a 
moment. The dignity of the American character was 
not thus to be sullied. To the astonishment of this 
affrighted soldier, who was expecting every moment 
to be immolated on the altar of revenge as some 
atonement for the manes of our murdered country- 
men, he received assurances of safety and protec- 


tion. Accordingly, when the doors were opened to 
discharge the wounded, this man was delivered up 
to his astonished comrades in perfect safety." 

Satisfied with having " fixed the damned rascals " 
to the extent of seven men killed and sixty wounded, 
Shortland withdrew his troops, and, as if to cover 
his guilt, sent a dispatch to Plymouth stating his 
" danger," and on the following day a strong reen- 
forcement arrived. It is needless to say that every 
honorable British officer who witnessed the butchery 
and the scene of it afterward denounced, in private, 
Shortland as a cowardly cur, though in their official 
capacity they were compelled to give some color to 
his faint-hearted plea of " duty." The matter was 
thoroughly investigated on both sides, and it leaves 
no room for doubt that the entire disgraceful occur- 
rence was the result of the long-pent spite of a 
drunken officer who could not allow the objects of 
his cowardly enmity to escape him without one 
chance at " satisfaction." 



ONE of the most remarkable actions of this war 
in which an American privateer was engaged was 
that between the British 40-gun frigate Endymion, 
Captain Henry Hope, and the armed ship Prince de 
Nenckatel, of New York. The extraordinary feature 
of this affair lies in the fact that a vessel fitted out at 
private expense actually frustrated the utmost en- 
deavors of an English frigate, of vastly superior 
force in guns and men, to capture the privateer. As 
the commander of the Endymion said, he lost as many 
men in his efforts to seize the Prince de Neuchdtel as 
he would have done had his ship engaged a regular 
man-or-war of equal force, and he generously ac- 
knowledged that the people in the privateer con- 
ducted their defense in the most heroic and skillful 

That this declaration of Captain Hope was sin- 
gularly prophetic will be seen in the fact that this 
same Endymion, only three months after her disas- 
trous attack on the Prince de NcucMtel, had a run- 
ning fight of two and a half hours' duration with 
the United States 44-gun frigate President, a sister 
ship of the famous Constitution, and a vessel " of 
equal force " to the Endymion. In the latter affair 
the Endymion had eleven men killed and fourteen 
wounded, a total of twenty-five out of a complement 
of three hundred and fifty. In her attack on the pri- 
vateer the Endymion had forty-nine killed, thirty- 



seven wounded, and thirty of her crew were made 
prisoners, a total of one hundred and sixteen as 
against the total of twenty-five in her encounter 
with the President*, ship " of equal force." From 
these statements it will be seen that the privateer 
had quite as severe a fight as the President, and on 
this occasion contributed fully as much to the glory 
of American maritime prowess. 

This notable action occurred off Nantucket on 
the night of October 11, 1814. The Prince de Neu- 
cMtel, commanded by Captain J. Ordronaux, was 
considered a " splendid vessel " in her clay. She was 
a hermaphrodite-rigged craft of three hundred and 
ten tons the End-ymion measuring about one thou- 
sand four hundred tons and mounted seventeen 
guns as against the Englishman's fifty guns, to say 
nothing of the latter' s immensely larger calibers. 
Her complement when she left New York on her 
most eventful cruise was about eighty men and 
boys, which number had been reduced by drafts for 
prize crews to thirty-seven. The Prince clc NcuchAtcl 
belonged to the estate of Mrs Charrten, of New 
York, who had recently died. This privateer was 
one of the many " lucky vessels " of the war, and 
made several profitable cruises, in the course of 
which she was chased by seventeen different men- 
of-war, but always managed to escape through supe- 
rior seamanship and her great speed. The goods 
captured by her from the enemy and brought safely 
into port sold for nearly three millions of dollars, 
besides which a large amount of specie was secured. 

This vessel did not begin her career as a war 
craft until the spring of 1814, at which time she was 
in Cherbourg, France. Here she was armed and 
fitted out as a privateer, and early in March she 
plunged into the thickest of British commerce in the 
English Channel, and in one brief cruise made nine 
valuable prizes, most of which arrived safely in 
French ports, while those of little value were burned. 


In June the Prince de NeucMtel made another dash 
against the enemy's shipping, sending six prizes into 
Havre between the 4th and 10th of that month, which 
were sold. In August this commerce destroyer was 
in the Irish Channel, where she came across a brig 
that refused to surrender, whereupon a broadside 
was poured into the stubborn merchant craft and 
she sank. In September the Prince de NeucMtel de- 
stroyed the brigs Steady, James, Triton (of two guns, 
laden with coffee and wine), Apollo, Sibron, Albion, 
Charlotte, and Mary Ann, besides the sloops Jane and 
George, and the cutter General Doyle. She also cap- 
tured and destroyed the transport Aaron, of four 
guns, from Gibraltar for Lisbon, and converted the 
following prizes into cartels in order to get rid of 
her constantly accumulating prisoners the brigs 
Barewick Packet, from Cork for Bristol, which had 
fifty passengers aboard, and Nymph. She also cap- 
tured the ship Harmony, of four guns, and an English 
privateer; but the latter was allowed to escape, as, 
just at the moment of taking possession, a suspicious 
sail hove in sight which proved to be a large war 
vessel, and the Prince dc Ncucliatcl was compelled to 
make sail in flight. A prize crew had been placed 
in the Harmony, with orders to make for the United 
States, but a few days later that ship was recap- 
tured. Instead of returning to a French port after 
her last cruise, as had been her custom, the Prince 
de NeucMtel made directly for Boston, where she re- 
fitted and put to sea again early in October. 

Captain Ordronaux, of the Prince de Neuchatel, 
was a seaman of unusual ability. At the outbreak 
of hostilities between the United States and Great 
Britain he commanded the French privateer Ma- 
rengo. It was this vessel that Captain Richard 
Byron, of the British 36-gun frigate Belvidera, was 
so earnestly watching, on June 23, 1812, off these 
same Nantucket Shoals, when Captain John Rodg- 
ers' squadron, having the President as a flagship, 


came along and chased the Englishman away. At 
that time the Marengo was in New London, quite as 
earnestly watching for a chance to pounce upon the 
English brig Lady Sherlock, expected daily from Hali- 
fax bound for Jamaica with an exceedingly valu- 
able cargo. It proved to be very much like a cat 
watching a mouse to prevent it from getting a 
morsel of cheese when the bulldog Eodgers came 
tumbling along, chased the cat, Belvidera, into Hali- 
fax, when the mouse, Marengo, pounced upon the 
unsuspecting Lady Sherlock as she was passing by 
and carried her safely into New York, August 10, 

It was on the very scene of this cat-dog-mouse- 
and-cheese comedy, enacted in 1812, that the Prince 
de Neuchdtel, on the night of October 11, 1814, made 
one of the most heroic defenses in maritime history. 
At this time the British squadron blockading the 
port of New York consisted of the 56-gun frigate 
Majestic, Captain John Hayes; the 40-gun frigate 
Endymion, Captain Henry Hope; and the 38-gun 
frigate Pomone, Captain John Richard Lumley. The 
Endymion had been sent to Halifax for repairs, and 
it was while she was returning from that port to 
her station off New York that she fell in with the 
Prince de Neuchdtel. 

At noon, October llth October 9th according to 
English accounts while the Prince de Ncuchatel, 
then only a few days out of Boston, was about 
half a mile to the south of Nantucket Shoals, Cap- 
tain Ordronaux discovered a sail off Gay Head,, 
and as it promptly gave chase he was satisfied that 
it was a ship of force, and made his preparations 
accordingly. Knowing that few, if any, of the 
American frigates were on the high seas, at that 
time, owing to the rigor of the British blockade, 
Captain Ordronaux made every effort to escape, 
being satisfied that the stranger was a British 
frigate. Unfortunately for the privateer, she was 


so situated as to be becalmed at the moment, while 
the stranger was holding a fresh breeze and coming 
up very fast. The Prince de NeucMtel had in tow the 
prize she recently captured, the English merchant 
ship Douglass, which the Americans were anxious to 
get safely into port. 

At three o'clock in the afternoon the privateer 
caught the breeze, and, as the Englishman was still 
some twelve miles distant, hopes were entertained 
of effecting a timely retreat. By seven o'clock in 
the evening it was calm, at which time the three 
vessels were in sight of one another. Finding that 
the current was sweeping him shoreward, Captain 
Ordronaux cast off his tow, and the two vessels came 
to anchor about a quarter of a mile apart. 

An hour and a half later, when it was quite dark, 
the people in the prize signaled, as previously 
agreed upon, that several boats were approaching 
from the frigate, apparently with the intention of 
atacking the privateer under cover of night. Ob- 
serving the signal, Captain Ordronaux called all 
hands, and made every preparation for giving the 
British a warm reception. As soon as the English 
boats, which were under the command of Lieuten- 
ant Abel Hawkins, the first lieutenant of the Endym- 
ion, could be distinguished in the night, the priva- 
teer began a rapid discharge of her great guns and 
small arms. Paying no attention whatever to this, 
the English gallantly dashed ahead, and in a few 
moments were alongside the Prince de NeucMtel and 
endeavoring to clamber up her sides. The enemy 
had planned the attack with considerable skill, for 
almost at the same moment it was reported to Cap- 
tain Ordronaux that an English boat was on each 
side, one on each bow and one under the stern five 
craft in all, completely surrounding the privateer, 
and compelling her crew to face five different points 
of attack at once. 

This was the beginning of a desperate and bloody 


struggle, in which men fought like wild beasts and 
grappled with each other in deadly embrace. 
Knives, pistols, cutlasses, marline spikes, belaying 
pins anything that could deal an effective blow 
were in requisition, while even bare fists, finger nails, 
and teeth came into play. Captain Ordronaux him- 
self fired some eighty shots at the enemy. Springing 
up the sides of the vessel the British would endeavor 
to gain her deck, but every attempt was met with 
deadly blows by the sturdy defenders of the craft. 
A few of the British succeeded in gaining the decks 
and took the Americans in the rear, but the latter 
promptly turned on the enemy and dispatched them. 
It was well understood by the crew of the privateer 
that Captain Ordronaux had avowed his determina- 
tion of never being taken alive by the British, and 
that he would blow up his ship, with all hands, before 
striking his colors. At one period of the fight, when 
the British had gained the deck, and were gradually 
driving the Americans back, Ordronaux seized 
a lighted match, ran to the companion way, directly 
over the magazine, and called out to his men that 
he would blow the ship up if they retreated further. 
The threat had the desired effect, the Americans 
rallied for a final struggle, overpowered the enemy, 
and drove the few survivors into their boats. 

Such a sanguinary fight could not be of long 
duration, and at the end of twenty minutes the Eng- 
lish cried out for quarter, upon which the Americans 
ceased firing. It was found that of the five barges 
one had been sunk, three had drifted off from along- 
side apparently without a living person in them, 
and the fifth boat was taken possession of by the 
Americans. There were forty-three men in the barge 
that was sunk, of whom only two were rescued; 
the remainder, it is supposed, were caught by the 
swift current, carried beyond the reach of holp, and 
drowned. The boat seized by the Americans con- 
tained thirty-six men at the beginning of the action, 


of whom eight were killed and twenty were wounded, 
leaving only eight unhurt. The entire number of 
men in the five barges was one hundred and twenty, 
including the officers, marines, and boys. The entire 
number of men in the privateer fit for duty at 
the beginning of the action was thirty-seven, of 
whom seven were killed and twenty-four wounded. 
Among the killed was Charles Hilburn, a Nantucket 
pilot, who had been taken out of a fishing vessel. 
Among the British killed were First Lieutenant 
Hawkins and a master's mate, while the second lieu- 
tenant, two master's mates, and two midshipmen 
were wounded. 

" So determined and effective a resistance," says 
an English naval historian, " did great credit to the 
American captain and his crew. On the 31st the 
Eiid-yniion fell in with the 56-gun ship Saturn, Cap- 
tain James Nash, bound for Halifax, and, sending on 
board, with her surgeon and his servant, twenty- 
eight wounded officers and men, received from the 
Saturn, to replace the severe loss she had sustained, 
one lieutenant, four midshipmen, and thirty-three 
seamen and marines." 

Captain Ordronaux now found himself in posses- 
sion of so many prisoners that they outnumbered 
his own able-bodied men, there remaining only eight 
seamen unhurt in the privateer, while there were 
thirty prisoners to take care of. As a matter of 
precaution, Captain Ordronaux allowed only the 
second lieutenant of the Endymion, three midship- 
men two of them desperately wounded and one 
wounded master's mate to come aboard; while the 
other prisoners, after having all their arms, oars, 
etc., taken from them, were kept in the launch under 
the stern of the Prince de Neuchatel, where there 
would be less danger of attempting to overpower 
the few surviving Americans, capture the ship, and 
release their officers. 

Anxious to be rid of his dangerous prisoners 


Captain Ordronaux, on the following morning, 
signed an agreement with the lieutenant, midship- 
men, and master's mates, in behalf of themselves 
and the British seamen and marines, not to serve 
against the United States again in this war unless 
duly exchanged. Under this agreement the prison- 
ers were placed on shore at Nantucket by the priva- 
teer's launch, and were taken charge of by the United 
States marshal. Most of the American and English 
wounded also were sent ashore, where they could se- 
cure better attention. The Prince de Neuclidtel, as soon 
as the wind served, got under way, and easily evading 
^he Endymion, ran into Boston Harbor, October 15th. 
^On gaining port Captain Ordronaux retired from 
the command of this lucky privateer and became 
a part owner. Her first officer in the fight with the 
Endymion succeeded to the command after promis- 
ing " never to surrender the craft." He is described 
by one of the crew as "a Jew by persuasion, a 
Frenchman by birth, an American for convenience, 
and so diminutive in stature as to make it appear 
ridiculous, in the eyes of others, even for him to 
enforce authority among a hardy, weather-beaten 
crew should they do aught against his will." Her 
first officer is described as " a man who never uttered 
an angry or harsh word, made no use of profane 
language, but was terrible, even in his mildness, 
when faults occurred through carelessness or neg- 
lect. He knew what each man's duty was and his 
capacity for fulfilling it, never putting more to the 
men's tasks than they were able to get through 
with; but every jot and tittle must be performed, 
and that to the very letter, without flinching, or the 
task would be doubled. While maneuvering the men 
he would go through with the various duties with- 
out oaths, bluster, or even loud words, and do more 
in less time than all the other officers on board, with 
their harsh threatenings, profane swearings, or loud 
bawlings through their speaking trumpets. The 


men honored and obeyed him, and would have fought 
with any odds at his bidding." The second officer 
was put down as a " mere nobody." The third offi- 
cer had been a warrant officer in the Constitution 
during her engagements with the Guerri&re and 
Java, but was discharged for " unofficer-like con- 
duct," and had shipped in the Prince de Neuch&tel. 
He proved to be an indifferent officer, and his negli- 
gence was the cause of the capture of the privateer 
on her next cruise. 

On the night of December 21st the Prince de 
NeucMtel, in spite of the vigilance of the British 
blockading force off Boston, got to sea. On the fifth 
day out she encountered a terrific storm which lasted 
several days, and came near ending the career of this 
formidable craft. " The morning of December 28th," 
records one of the American crew, " broke with no 
prospect of the gale ceasing, and the brig looked 
more like a wreck than the stanch and proud craft 
of the week previous. She was stripped to her 
stumps, all her yards, except her fore and fore-top- 
sail, were on deck, her rigging in disorder, and the 
decks lumbered and in confusion from the effects of 
the sea which had so often broken over them during 
the past night. Much of this confusion was at- 
tributable to the third officer, who had the watch 
from 4 A. M. to 8 A. M. When he was relieved by the 
first officer, at 8 A. M., the latter severely repri- 
manded the third officer, and, among other things, 
asked if a sharp lookout had been maintained, and 
replied that the last man sent to the masthead had 
left his post without being relieved, and without the 
third officer knowing that the brig had been with- 
out a lookout all that time. ... I saw the fire or, 
what was its equal, anger flash from the first lieu- 
tenant's eyes at this remissness of duty, and he in- 
stantly gave an order for the best man on board to 
go to the masthead, there to remain till ordered 
down." This man had not been at his post ten min- 


utes when he reported a large sail bearing down on 
the Prince de Neuchatel, and shortly afterward two 
others, apparently heavy men-of-war, making every 
effort to close on the privateer. These strangers 
were, in fact, the British frigates Leander, Newcastle, 
and Acasta, composing Sir George Collier's squadron, 
which had been off Boston, but was now hastening 
across the Atlantic in search of the Constitution, 
which had eluded them off Boston and was now at 
sea. 1 

As soon as the strangers were discovered the 
Prince de NeucMtel was put on her best point of sail- 
ing, but in spite of every effort the massive frigates 
having a great advantage over her in the heavy seas 
and wind she was soon surrounded and captured. 
Only a few minutes after the surrender one of the 
frigates lost her jib boom, fore and main topgallant 
masts and broke her mizzen topsail yard in the 
slings, while another frigate carried away her miz- 
zen topsail, main topgallant yard, and strained her 
fore-topsail yard so as to endanger it by carrying 
sail. Had the approach of the enemy been discov- 
ered when they made out the privateer the Prince 
de NeucMtel would have escaped. 

"At the time of our capture," said one of the 
privateer's crew, "there were on board five or six 
French and Portuguese seamen who had belonged 
to the brig during her former cruisings, and who ap- 
peared to be on good terms with the captain but 
had no intercourse with the crew. They messed by 
themselves and had as little to say to the Ameri- 
cans as the Americans manifested disposition to 
associate with them. These men were overheard to 
say, more than once during the chase, that the brig 
never would be taken by the frigates, assigning no 

' 1 For an account of the remarkable escape of Old Ironsides from 
Boston and her chase by this squadron, see Maclay's History of the Navy, 
..Tol. i, pp. 622-689. 


reason why only, * She shall neyer be under a Brit- 
ish flag.' One of the men had been a prisoner of 
war ten times, and declared he would sooner go to 
the bottom of the ocean than again to prison. To 
this no one objected, provided he went without com- 
pany; for he was a Frenchman by birth, a Calmuc 
in appearance, a savage in disposition, a cutthroat 
at heart, and a devil incarnate. Our first lieutenant 
kept a strict eye upon this coterie during the whole 
day that the chase continued, the idea strengthen- 
ing, as the captain held on his course long after any 
hope remained of the chance of getting clear of 
the frigates, that all was not right. In the hurry of 
the moment [the surrender] at our rounding to, 
Jos6, one of the men above spoken of, seized a brand 
from the caboose, proceeded toward the magazine, 
and would have carried his diabolical intentions into 
effect only for the vigilance of our ever-watchful 
lieutenant, who checked him ere too late, brought 
him on deck, nor quit his hold till the brand was 
cast overboard and the dastard thrown thrice his 
length by an indignant thrust of the lieutenant's 
powerful arm." 

With much difficulty a small boarding party from 
the Leander took possession of the privateer, but as 
the sea and wind remained heavy it was found to be 
impossible to send a second detachment aboard. 
Realizing their advantage, the American officers, 
about half an hour before midnight, rallied their men, 
with a view of recapturing the brig, but on gaining 
the deck they observed that the condition of her 
spars and sails was such as to render such a move 
hopeless and the attempt was given up. On the 
following day the prisoners were taken aboard 
the Leandcr, where the Americans noticed a large 
placard nailed to her mainmast, on which were 
written these words: "Beward of 100 to the 
man who shall first descry the American frigate 
Constitution provided she can be brought to, and 


a smaller reward should they not be enabled 
to come up with her." The Leander had been 
fitted out expressly to capture Old Ironsides, and had 
a picked crew of more than five hundred men. 
" Every one [in the Leander]," continues the record, 
" was eager in his inquiries about this far-famed frig- 
ate, and most of the men appeared anxious to fall 
in with her, she being a constant theme of conversa- 
tion, speculation, and curiosity. There were, how- 
ever, two seamen and a marine one of whom had 
had his shin sadly shattered from one of her [the 
Constitution's] grapeshot who were in the frigate 
Java when she was captured. These I have often 
heard say, in return to their shipmates' boastings: 
* If you had seen as much of the Constitution as we 
have, you would give her a wide berth, for she 
throws her shot almighty careless, fires quick, aims 
low, and is altogether an ugly customer.' " 

The thoroughly American spirit of the Prince de 
NeucMteVs crew is well brought out in the account 
of one of her men. After being taken aboard the 
Leander the prisoners were stowed away in the cable 
tier a miserable hole at the bottom of the ship, 
where the anchor cables were stored. Here the 
Americans were compelled to remain from 4 p. M. 
to 8 A. M. every twenty-four hours. To while away 
the time they resorted to singing. "One night," 
says one of the men, " it was understood that soine 
of our naval-victory songs were not well relished by 
the officers on deck, which only brought out others 
with a louder chorus than before and an extra 
< hurrah for the Yankee thunders.' At this half a 
dozen of the best English songsters were picked, 
with some dozen to join in their choruses. These 
assembled around the hatch above us for the pur- 
pose of silencing us, singing us down, or to rival us 
in noisy melody and patriotic verse. They were al- 
'lowed to finish their songs unmolested by lis, but the 
moment they were through we struck up with ours, 

1814. A BATTLE OP SOHQS. 389 

each one striving to outdo his shipmate, especially 
in the choruses. Knowing that the character of our 
country was at stake, and that it depended much 
upon our zeal and good management whether it 
should be upheld in the face of our enemies, we 
strove accordingly to do our best as its representa- 
tives. . . . The contest was kept up for some time, 
evidently to our advantage, not only as to the quality 
of the singing for in this our opponents could not 
hold their own a moment but to the number and 
subject of the songs, they having run out with their 
victories over the Yankees before our party was 
fairly warm with the contest. That they should not 
flag at the game, they took up with the First of 
June, the Battle of the Nile, besides many others, 
and we told them, in plain English, that they were 
dodging the contest. This they cared far less for 
than they did for a home-thrust victory over them 
from the Yankees to each one of theirs over the 
French. At last our fire became so warm that they 
were compelled to back out, chopfallen, and they 
had the satisfaction of having their defeat an- 
nounced to all on board by three-times-three cheers 
from the victors, accompanied with the clapping of 
hands and such other noises as each and all could 
invent in our zeal to outdo one another and uphold 
the honor of the country we hailed from, whose em- 
blem is the Stars and Stripes. 

" Word came from the deck that such noises 
could not be tolerated and that we must be quiet. 
This only aroused the prisoners to greater exertions. 
... In a few minutes the officer of the deck came 
down with blustering threats. If the most savage 
tribe of Indians had at once broken loose with a 
terrific war whoop it could not have been louder nor 
more grating to the ear than the screamings that 
followed the termination of the watch officer's 
speech, who, when he could get a hearing, tried to 
reason as to the absurdity of the prisoners persist- 

390 THE PRINCE DE NEUCHlTEL. 1814-1815. 

ing, saying, ' The order of the ship must and shall be 
maintained; if by no other means, I will order the 
marines to fire into the hold.' This threat also was 
responded to by jeers, and soon afterward a line of 
marines drew up at the hatchway and prepared to 
shoot. This menace was met with louder jeers than 

"' Crack away, my Johnny! You can make killing 
no murder, but you can't easily mend the shot holes 
in your best bower cable!' * Hurrah for Old Iron- 
sides!' ' Three cheers for the gallant Perry!' 
( Down here, you Johnny Bull, and learn manners 
from your betters!' were a few of the shouts that 
saluted the ears of the marines. The officer, not 
daring to fire on the prisoners, now withdrew his 
marines, and was followed by the derisive shouts of 
the prisoners. . . . The noises were kept up till 
morning broke, not allowing the wardroom officers a 
moment's rest, as they were situated on the deck 
immediately above us." The next night the prison- 
ers began their pandemonium again, but the officers 
arranged a number of 42-pound shot on the deck, just 
over the prisoners' heads, and started them rolling. 
" As they passed from one side to the other, at each 
roll of the ship, with a low, harsh, thunder-like rum- 
bling, as deafening as dreadful, and more horrible 
than the booming of ten thousand Chinese gongs, in- 
termingling with as many bell clappers, set in mo- 
tion by one who is sworn to drown all else by his 
own noisy clatter, they made a noise little less than 
a discharge of artillery." This proved to be too 
much for our gallant tars, and they gradually gave 
up the contest. 

Arriving at Fayal, Sir George transferred his 
prisoners to the sloop of war Pheasant, in which 
they were taken to England, while he resumed his 
search for the Constitution. 1 

See Maclay's History of the Navy, vol. i, pp. 6S2-639. 



THE escape of the United States 44-gun frigate 
Constitution, Captain Isaac Hull, from a powerful 
British squadron off Sandy Hook, early in the War 
of 1812, has justly been regarded as one of most 
extraordinary feats of seamanship on record. Cap- 
tain Hull won for himself and the service lasting 
fame by his masterly handling of the Constitution, 
and it is interesting to record that probably the 
nearest approach to this famous chase was that of 
the American privateer Grand Turk by a British 
squadron, March, 1815, off Pernambuco, in which 
the privateer escaped only by the superb seaman- 
ship of her commander, Nathan Green. 

The Grand Turk, a 310-ton ship, was built for a 
privateer in the shipyards of Salem by Elias Basket 
Derby toward the close of the Revolution, and made 
a number of prizes. " The war being over," wrote 
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "she was sent by 
her owner on the first American voyage to the Cape 
of Good Hope in 1781, the cargo consisting largely 
of rum. The voyage proved profitable, and Captain 
Jonathan Ingersoll, her commander, bought in the 
West Indies on his return enough of Grenada rum 
to load two vessels, sent home the Grand Turk, and 
came himself in the Atlantic. On the way he rescued 
the captain and mate of an English schooner, the 
Amity, whose crew had mutinied and set them adrift 
in a boat By one of those singular coincidences 


of which maritime life then seemed to yield so many, 
this very schooner was afterward recaptured in 
Salem harbor in this way: After their arrival the 
captain of the Amity was sitting with Mr. Derby in 
his countingroom, and presently saw through the 
spyglass his own vessel in the offing. Mr. Derby 
promptly put two pieces of ordnance on board one 
of his brigs, and gave the English captain the un- 
looked-for pleasure of recapturing the Amity, whose 
mutineers had no reason to suppose that they 
should happen upon the precise port into which 
their victims had been carried. This was not the 
only pioneer expedition of the Grand Turk, which 
also made, in 1785-'86, the first voyage direct from 
New England to the Isle of France and China." 

When the War of 1812 broke out the Grand Turk 
was refitted as a privateer, carrying eighteen guns 
and a complement of one hundred and fifty men. 
At first she had as her commander Holten J. Breed, 
but toward the close of the war she was commanded 
by Nathan Green. Her first venture was made early 
in 1813, when she ran down to the coast of Brazil, 
cruised some time in the West Indies, and late in 
May put into Portland, Maine. In this time the 
Grand Turk captured three large vessels carrying 
heavy armaments and a schooner, all of which were 
ordered to France. 

In her second cruise, which was begun in July, 
1813, the Grand Turk made directly for European 
waters. On her voyage across the Atlantic she cap- 
tured the schooner Rebecca, from Halifax bound for 
Bermuda, laden with live stock and provisions, 
which was sent into Portsmouth. Reaching the 
other side of the ocean, the Grand Turk cruised for 
twenty days in the chops of the English Channel 
without meeting a British war craft of any descrip- 
tion. She came across many of their merchantmen, 
however, and took, in rapid succession, the schooner 
Agnes, laden with fish, which was sent into a French 

1813. A LUCKY CRUISE. 393 

port; the ship William, of ten guns, having a valu- 
able cargo of drygoods, crates, wine, etc., from 
Cork for Buenos Ayres, which was sent into Salem; 
the brig Indian Lass, from Liverpool for St. Michael, 
with drygoods, which also was sent into Salem with 
thirty prisoners; the brig Catharine, from Lisbon for 
London; and the schooner Britannia, for the West 
Indies, which was sent into Portland. The Catha- 
rine shortly afterward was recaptured by the Eng- 
lish brig of war Bacchus, but before the prize could 
gain port the Grand Turk again loomed up on her 
horizon and seized her for the second time. To make 
sure that she would not again fall into the hands 
of the enemy, the Americans, after taking out the 
most valuable portion of the cargo, burned her. 

Continuing her cruise in English waters, the 
Grand Turk added to her list of valuable prizes the 
sloop Caroline, from London for St. Michael, laden 
with drygoods. The cargo was transferred to the 
privateer, but the sloop being of little value, and 
the prisoners in the privateer becoming so numer- 
ous as to be dangerous, the Caroline was released 
and ordered to the nearest port with the prisoners. 
Soon afterward the privateer captured the merchant- 
man Cossack, laden with wine. This vessel was re- 
captured by the 74-gun ship of the line Bulwark, but, 
like the Catharine, was again captured by the Ameri- 
cans; this time by the privateer Surprise, of Balti- 
more, and was sent into Salem. After burning or 
sinking the schooner Pink; the brig Brothers, from 
St. John's for Liverpool, with lumber aboard; the 
brig Robert Stewart, also with lumber; the schooner 
Commerce, laden with fish; and releasing the brig 
Belgrade, from Malta for Falmouth after taking 
some guns out of her the Grand Turk returned to 
Salem in November, 1813, having made a cruise of 
one hundred and three days, and with only forty- 
four men of her original complement of one hundred 
and fifty left. One of her prizes had a cargo in- 




voiced at thirty thousand pounds sterling. This pri- 
vateer made one or two more short runs to sea with 
fairly good success, but it was on her last cruise, 
when under the command of Captain Nathan Green, 
that she made her greatest reputation. 

Scene of the Grand Turk's operations. 

Half an hour after noon on Sunday, January 1, 
1815, Captain Green stowed his anchors away and 
cleared his deck preparatory for sailing from Salem, 
and at 2 p. M. he passed Baker's Island. Nothing 
more than an occasional glimpse of a British frig- 
ate or a ship of the line, to which the Grand Turk 
promptly showed a clean pair of heels, served to 
break the monotony of the cruise until 3.30 P. M., 
February 17th, when the privateer was in the vicin- 
ity of Pernambuco. At that time a small sail was 
sighted, which proved to be a catamaran, and for 


the purpose of gaining information as to the pro- 
posed movements of British merchant ships Cap- 
tain Green boarded her. It happened that the craft 
had just left the port, and her master informed the 
Americans that there were eight English vessels in 
the harbor, some of them ready to sail. 

This was the news Captain Green had been long- 
ing for, and he determined to hover off the port until 
some of the ships sailed. At six o'clock that even- 
ing he had approached sufficiently near Pernam- 
buco to distinguish the shipping. Two days later, 
or at 5.30 P. M., Sunday, February 19th, his patience 
was rewarded by a sail appearing to the north. 
Gradually drawing up on her during the night, he, 
at nine o'clock on the following rnoraing, boarded 
the brig Joven Francisco, sailing under Spanish colors 
from Pernambuco to London, but laden with a cargo 
of tea, coffee, sugar, and cinnamon consigned to 
British merchants. From her invoices and some 
letters found aboard, Captain Green was satisfied 
that the Spanish flag had been used merely as a 
cover, and that the craft and her cargo were in truth 
English property. Accordingly he seized her as a 
prize and placed Nathaniel Archer and some of his 
men aboard, with orders to make for the United 

Scarcely had the last speck of the Joven Francisco 
faded from the horizon when the people in the pri- 
vateer were cheered by the sight of another sail, this 
one to the south, standing northward. Observing 
that she was coming directly upon the privateer, 
Captain Green allowed her to approach, and at 6.30 
p. M., February 21st, he boarded her. She was found 
to be the British ship Active Jane, of Liverpool, from 
Kio Janeiro bound for Maranham. She had on 
board seven bags of specie, containing fourteen 
thousand milled rees, which were valued at about 
seventeen thousand five hundred dollars. A prize 
crew was placed aboard, with orders to keep near 


the Grand Turk during the night. At daylight on 
tHe following morning Captain Green made a more 
thorough search of his prize, but finding nothing 
else of much value, he transferred the specie to his 
vessel and scuttled the merchantman. 

From this time until March 10th the Grand Turk 
cruised in this vicinity, occasioning much damage 
to the enemy's commerce. She stayed so long, how- 
ever, that the English had time to collect several 
war ships, which were promptly sent out to capture 
the bold privateersman. Captain Green was fully 
alive to the growing danger of his position, and 
when at daylight, Friday, March 10th, the man at 
the masthead reported a sail in the eastern quarter, 
he promptly called all hands and sent them to 

Thinking that the stranger might be a merchant- 
man, Captain Green cautiously ran down to her, but 
soon afterward he discovered another sail, this one 
being on the weather bow. This did not deter the 
Grand Turk from continuing her approach to the 
first stranger, and she was fast drawing near to her, 
when, at 6.30 A. M., she passed very near the second 
stranger. Captain Green stopped only long enough 
to be satisfied that she was a Portuguese schooner. 
At seven o'clock a third stranger was made out from 
the Grand Turk's masthead three points off the lee 
bow. By this time the chase was seen to be a full- 
rigged ship, a fact that made Captain Green more 
cautious in approaching, but did not prevent him 
from continuing the chase. 

By 8 A. M. the third stranger was seen to be a 
large, full-rigged ship also, standing by the wind to 
the northwest. With increasing anxiety Captain 
Green continued the chase after the first stranger 
and gradually drew up on her, but at ten o'clock, 
when he had reached a position three quarters of a 
mile to windward, he became satisfied that the chase 
was a frigate endeavoring to decoy the privateer 

1815. A HAED CHASE. 39Y 

under her guns. Captain Green was not to be 
caught by such a simple trick as that, and in an 
instant the Grand Turk tacked and made all sail to 
escape. With equal celerity the British frigate 
for such she proved to be tacked also and was 
spreading every sail that would draw. 

It did not take the privateer long to demonstrate 
her superior sailing qualities, and in less than an 
hour she had so increased her lead on the enemy 
as to relieve Captain Green of all fear of capture; 
thereupon he ran up the American flag and fired a 
shot in defiance. But at this juncture the wind, 
most unfortunately for the privateer, suddenly 
hauled around to the west, which was very favor- 
able for the frigate, and in a short time enabled her 
to approach dangerously near. At 11.30 A. M., find- 
ing that the Englishman was within gunshot and 
was slowly getting alongside, Captain Green got 
out his sweeps. By urging his men to their utmost 
exertion he made considerable progress, notwith- 
standing the fact that, though it was calm where 
the Grand Turk was, there was a choppy head sea. 

Observing that the American was slipping from 
his grasp, the Englishman began firing with his 
chase guns, and manning all his boats, sent them 
ahead to tow. Four different times the frigate at- 
tempted to tack, but without success. In the hope 
of damaging the enemy's rigging, Captain Green 
opened on the frigate with his long guns and again 
hoisted his colors. About this time a ship was dis- 
covered to leeward which also proved to be a Brit- 
ish frigate, and joined in the pursuit of the priva- 
teer. At noon Captain Green swept his brig round 
with her head northward, and having a more favor^. 
able sea, managed to increase his lead on the enemy. 

In this manner the chase was kept up all that 
night, and the following day, March llth, the Ameri* 
cans were making every exertion at their sweeps, 
while the British were equally diligent in endeav- 


oring to tow their ships within gunshot. The 
weather all this time was extremely warm and 
sultry, which made it especially trying on the Ameri- 
can crew. The British, having a larger complement 
of men, were enabled to form relief crews. At dusk, 
Saturday, March lljth, the enemy made a great 
effort to get within range, but the vigilant Ameri- 
cans were equal to the emergency, and by putting 
forth renewed efforts managed to hold their own. 

When Sunday, March 12th, dawned, Captain 
Green was much relieved to find that the enemy was 
out of sight; but at 1.30 P. M. the two frigates, fa- 
vored by a breeze that did not reach the Grand Turk, 
hove in sight again off the lee bow and gradually 
drew up on the chase. By five o'clock the wind had 
died out and the Americans again took to their 
sweeps. During the night, by ceaseless applica- 
tion of the sweeps, the privateer gained so much as 
to be out of sight of her pursuers when day broke. 
At two o'clock on Monday afternoon, not having seen 
anything of the enemy for some time, Captain Green 
employed all hands in getting down the fore-top- 
mast, which had been strained in the chase, and 
replacing it with a new one. While busy at this 
task a sail was descried to the northwest, and at 
four o'clock another was observed standing for the 
privateer. By half past five Captain Green had his 
new fore-topmast and topgallant mast in place, 
rigged and yards aloft. He then made sail for the 
second stranger, and at seven o'clock boarded her. 
She proved to be a Portuguese brig from Bnhia bound 
for La Grande, with a cargo of salt. Captain Green 
took this opportunity of placing five British prison- 
ers, under parole, in this vessel, and, discharging ten 
Spaniards, he placed them aboard the brig with the 
necessary supply of provisions and resumed his 

After this narrow escape the Grand Turk saw 
nothing more of the British frigates until five days 


later, when her intrepid commander, unruffled by 
the danger he had escaped, persisted in remaining 
in these waters. At two o'clock on the afternoon of 
Saturday, March 18th, Captain Green overhauled 
and spoke a Portuguese brig from Africa bound for 
Kio Janeiro with a cargo of slaves. At this moment 
another sail to the northwest was reported from 
the masthead, and away went the privateer in chase 
of it. As the American gradually overhauled the 
stranger it became more and more evident that she 
was a ship of force, and at half past four o'clock she 
hoisted English colors and began firing her stern 
guns. No attention was paid to this by the Ameri- 
cans, who kept silently and persistently in the wake 
of the chase, confident in their ability to overtake 

Forty minutes later the stranger took in her 
steering sails, gave a broad yaw, and fired a broad- 
side. Upon this invitation to a square yardarm fight 
the Grand Turk promptly followed the maneuver 
and opened with her port battery, and maintained 
such a heavy fire that in ten minutes the English- 
man struck. On taking possession, the Americans 
found her to be the British brig Acorn, from Liver- 
pool, bound for Rio Janeiro. The prize carried four- 
teen 12-pounders, and had a cargo of drygoods. No 
time was lost in getting the cargo aboard the priva- 
teer, for Captain Green well knew that British 
cruisers were swarming in this part of the ocean. 
In twenty minutes the first boat load of goods was 
brought aboard the Grand Turk. All night long the 
crew was kept busy transferring the merchandise, 
but at daylight Sunday morning the work was in- 
terrupted by the appearance of two frigates and a 
war brig in full chase of the privateer, and on her 
lee beam. These frigates proved to be the same 
that had given the Grand Turk such a hard and per- 
sistent chase the week before. Taking a "very full 
boat load of goods on board," Captain Green placed 



Joseph Phippen and eleven men aboard the Acorn, 
with orders to make for the United States, and then 
gave attention to his own safety. As the wind was 
fair, he soon found that he was drawing away from 
the frigates, and by nightfall he had run them out 

of sight. 

Having had a tolerably successful cruise of 
nearly three months, and believing that the treaty of 
peace, signed at Ghent, would be ratified, Captain 
Green decided to return home. Another reason for 
terminating his cruise was the fact that the Grand 
Turk's copper and rigging were very much out of 
repair and she was running short of water. 

While homeward bound Captain Green, at four 
o'clock in the morning of March 29th, discovered a 
sail to windward, and, believing that he might take 
another prize, tacked in pursuit. At half past eight 
he came up with the stranger, which proved to 
be a Portuguese ship from Africa for Maranham, 
with nearly five hundred slaves aboard. Captain 
Green took this opportunity of releasing on parole 
eleven British prisoners who were placed aboard 
the Portuguese. 

Resuming her course northward, the Grand Turk, 
on April 16th, boarded the American schooner 
Comet, from Alexandria for Barbadoes, with a cargo 
of flour, and learned that peace between the United 
States and England had been concluded. Captain 
Green notes that this announcement " produced the 
greatest rejoicing throughout the ship's company." 
On Saturday, April 29th, the Grand Turk dropped 
anchor in Salem harbor, cleared decks, and saluted 
the town, thus completing a cruise of one hundred 
and eighteen days. This privateer captured, in the 
course of the war, three ships, twelve brigs, seven 
schooners, and eight sloops. On May 30, 1815, the 
Grand Turk was sold to William Gray, of Salem, and 
for some time was employed as a merchantman. 



ON the last day of March, 1814, four American 
captains in the privateer service met at Hotel des 
Ambassadeurs in the important seaport town of La 
Rochelle. They were Jeremiah Mantor, of the Bos- 
ton privateer Ida, David Maffltt, of the Rattlesnake, 
from Philadelphia; George Coggeshall, of the David 
Porter, from New York; and Mr. Brown, of the Deca- 
tur, from Portsmouth. Thus were four of the prin- 
cipal seaport cities of the United States represented 
at this meeting. All of these commanders had their 
ships in La Eochelle excepting Coggeshall, who 
had come to this place overland looking for means 
of transportation home for some valuable cargo. 
There was also in La Eochelle an American mer- 
chant brig belonging to New York, which had been 
laid up there from the beginning of the war. At 
this time the political situation of France, and of 
Europe too, was one of great uncertainty and sus- 
pense. The allied armies were close upon Paris, if 
not actually within the city, but as yet the exact 
state of affairs was not known in La Eochelle. Not 
the slightest information on the subject could be 
obtained. All communication between Paris and 
La Eochelle had been stopped some time before, 
not a diligence being allowed to run on the road 
between the two points. Everybody knew that the 
allied armies were in the neighborhood of Paris, but 
no one dared to speak on the subject. 


402 ESCAPE OF THE IDA. 1814. 

This state of anxiety and suspense was rendered 
doubly critical to the American officers by the fact 
that a powerful British blockading squadron, com- 
manded by Lord Keith in the ship of line Queen Char- 
lotte, consisting of five ships of the line, several frig- 
ates, and a number of war brigs and schooners, com- 
pletely blocked the entrance of the harbor, making 
it extremely difficult, if not foolhardy, for any of 
the four American vessels in that port to attempt to 
get to sea. On the other hand, if these vessels re- 
mained in port, their commanders had no assurance 
whatever that British influence which in case 
Paris fell would be all-powerful in the new Govern- 
ment to be established would not bring about the 
confiscation of their ships and cargoes. In short, 
the four Americans, although having entered a 
friendly port, suddenly found themselves in a trap 
from which there seemed to be not the slightest 
prospect of escape. They were menaced both from 
the land and sea, and their meeting at Hotel des 
Ambassadeurs was, in fact, a council of war. As 
the danger of capture seemed equally imminent 
from sea and land, they were not long in deciding 
to take their chances on the former as being best 
suited to the salty nature of honorable tars. 

Captain Maffitt, whose noteworthy career in the 
Atlas and Rattlesnake we have followed, had recently 
arrived from his northern cruise, and, as it had been 
one of extraordinary success, the English were par- 
ticularly anxious to put an end to the cruises of the 
mischief -making Rattlesnake. Just before entering 
this port the privateer had a desperate battle with 
the heavily armed British transport Mary, the result 
of which was highly exasperating to our cousins. 
The Mary was from Sicily, bound for England, and 
had on board as prisoners sixty -two French offi- 
cers, guarded by several English army officers and 
a detachment of soldiers. The two vessels met in 
the Bay of Biscay, and immediately engaged in bat- 


manders to action, and they resolved to sail their 
vessels out of the port at all hazards and make a 
bold dash for liberty. All their vessels were swift 
craft, designed especially for speed and convenience 
in cruising and eluding ships of greater force. The 
Ida was a fine, coppered brig of two hundred and 
seventy-two tons, mounting eight long 9-pounders 
and 12-pounders, with a complement of thirty-five 

Early on the morning of April 8th the three 
American privateers the Rattlesnake, the Ida, and 
the Decatur each fully prepared for a race or fight, 
tripped anchor and stood down the harbor to run 
the blockade if an opportunity should offer. They 
stood down with the wind on the north side of Pile 
de R6, an island just off the mainland, hoping to 
escape through that passage. But unexpectedly 
they found a strong English naval force stationed 
there, and were compelled to fall back, the Rattle- 
snake and Decatur returning to their anchorages. 

The Ida, however, lay to off the east end of the 
island long enough to discharge her pilot, and then 
squared away and made a bold dash down the 
south side of the island in plain sight of the entire 
British fleet at anchor in the roads off La Rochelle. 
The English admiral apparently was taken some- 
what by surprise by the sudden change of course 
made by the Ida. In fact, Captain Mantor was tak- 
ing desperate chances, for he was compelled to pass 
within a short distance of the British fleet; and even 
if he ran this gantlet in safety he was obliged to 
meet a heavy war schooner at the end of the island. 
On the other hand, Captain Mantor saw that the 
chances of his capture, should he endeavor to re- 
gain his anchorage, were great, and observing that, 
as the tide was then holding the ponderous ships 
of the line at anchor, they could scarcely bring a 
gun to bear on the course he proposed to take in his 
dash for liberty, he decided on the lesser evil of the 

1814. IN THE ENEMY'S TOILS. 405 

two. The very boldness of his decision was his main 
reliance in effecting his escape, for, as he rightly 
conjectured, the English were taken by surprise, and 
not one of the huge ships of the line was able to 
give him a shot as he passed them. One of them 
slipped her cable, however, and soon had settled 
down to a determined chase. 

Just as the little Ida, with the gigantic ship of 
the line tumbling after her, passed the south end 
of the island, Captain Mantor discovered a war 
schooner on his starboard side making for him from 
the cover of the island. If the Ida changed her 
course she would give the huge ship of the line, al- 
ready uncomfortably close in her wake, a chance 
to gain a quarter of a mile or more. This was a 
period of the chase when even such a short distance 
might turn the balance. On the other hand, if the 
Ida held on her present course she would be com- 
pelled to pass within musket shot of the schooner, 
so that the latter, in all probability, would shoot 
away some of the privateer's spars, and so cripple 
her rigging that she would fall an easy prey. Cap- 
tain Mantor determined to continue on the course he 
was then holding. In a few minutes he was within 
musket shot of the schooner, which let go all the 
guns she could bring to bear, carrying away the 
Ida's studding-sail boom, mainstay, and some run- 
ning rigging. This damage was anticipated, and the 
Americans had made every preparation for it, so 
that in an incredibly short time they had everything 
tight again and the studding sail reset. 

At this time several men-of-war were within gun- 
shot of the Ida, and were peppering away at her with 
all their chase guns. The Americans were too busy, 
however, looking out for their sails, rigging, and 
spars to pay any attention to these little pleasant- 
ries, and kept on their course in watchful silence. 
Soon after passing the schooner Captain Mantor dis- 
covered another war ship bearing down on his star- 

406 ESCAPE Ofl THE IDA. 1814. 

board side, and he nerved himself for another broad- 
side. He now determined to put up his helm and 
bring all his pursuers astern, as that was the only 
course left to him. This was quickly done, and the 
Ida crossed the bow of the last ship so near that the 
Americans could distinctly hear her seamen halloo. 
This ship, as soon as she could get her broadside to 
bear, let go her compliments at the Ida, but for- 
tunately most of the shot went too high. One 32- 
pound shot passed along the privateer's deck fore 
and aft, and lodged in the stern. Another carried 
away the anchor as it hung under her bow ready to 
let go, and severed the chain. Had not most of the 
crew of the Ida been in her hold at that time, heav- 
ing out ballast, many of them would have been 
killed or wounded. 

By lightening his vessel and increasing her speed 
in every possible way, Captain Mantor gradually 
drew out of gunshot, although by nightfall as many 
as ten British war ships were in full chase. The 
stubbornness of the chase is shown by the fact that 
when the English lost trace of the Ida in the night 
they spread out their forces so that some of their 
ships were sure to be in sight of the audacious pri- 
vateer on the following morning. How well they 
made their calculations was shown at daylight, for 
as soon as the lookout was able to distinguish any- 
thing at a distance from the ship he saw two Brit- 
ish frigates directly ahead. Captain Mantor quickly 
hauled up on the wind to avoid them. In doing this 
he narrowly escaped capsizing his own vessel, for 
six of the Ida's eight long guns had been thrown 
overboard in the chase, and she had been relieved of 
so much ballast as to make carrying a press of sail 

As soon as the two frigates sighted the privateer 
they were after her, and then began another long 
chase. All that morning and afternoon the three 
vessels strained and bowed under clouds of canvas, 


each doing her utmost to increase speed. As night 
again approached it was seen that the American 
had increased his lead some four or five miles, but 
still he was dangerously near the enemy, who by 
again dividing their forces in the night stood a toler- 
ably fair chance of sighting the chase at the break 
of day. 

About nine o'clock that night the Ida had suc- 
ceeded in concealing herself from her pursuers. 
Every light in her had been extinguished save those 
absolutely necessary for navigating the ship, and 
these were carefully shielded so as not to be visible 
to the enemy. Hopes were being entertained by all 
on board that they would actually make good their 
escape from La Rochelle, when, most unfortunately, 
the shutter of the binnacle fell, revealing the light 
to the Englishmen. At this instant one of the frig- 
ates was astern of the privateer and another was on 
her lee quarter, and the chances were that had they 
not seen the Ida's binnacle light their courses would 
have diverged so much during the night that by 
morning the Americans would have been out of 
sight. As soon as the Englishmen saw the light 
they signaled each other and changed their courses 
so as to surround the privateer. As quickly as pos- 
sible Captain Mantor had the shutter replaced, and 
again, in total darkness, the three vessels bowled 
along over the waves under the heaviest press of 
sail. At daylight, April 10th, Captain Mantor saw 
the two frigates, hull down, and in the course of the 
day he ran them out of sight, arriving safely at 
Boston after a passage of twenty-six days. 

Soon after the Ida made her marvelous escape 
from the harbor of La Rochelle the Decatur and the 
Rattlesnake seized opportunities for getting to sea. 
The former was captured September 3, 1814, by the 
British squadron, and the Rattlesnake was taken by 
the frigate Hyperion, June 3, 1814. 



THAT Salem holds a unique place in American 
ship lore must be apparent even to the casual ob- 
server. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, writing of 
the early history of that venerable seaport, says: 
" Long before the Revolution a plan had been vague- 
ly sketched out by which Salem was to obtain some- 
thing of that share in the India trade which later 
events brought to her. In an old letter book con- 
taining part of the correspondence that passed in 
1669 between Lieutenant-Colonel John Higginson, of 
Salem, and his brother Nathaniel a graduate of 
Harvard College and Governor of the English col- 
ony of Madras the home-keeping brother suggests 
that the ex-Governor should make the Massachu- 
setts colony the seat of an Oriental commerce by 
way of London, and thus enumerates the resources 
of such a traffic: ' All sorts of calicoes, aligers, rem- 
walls, muslin, silks for clothing and linings; all sorts 
of drugs proper for the apothecaries, and all sorts 
of spice, are vendible with us, and the prices of them 
alter much according as they were plenty or scarce. 
In the late war time all East India goods were ex- 
tremely dear. Muslins of the best sort, plain, 
striped, and flowered, were sold for 10 per piece, 
and some more. Pepper, 3s. per pound; nuts [nut- 
megs], 10s. per pound; cloves, 20,9.; mace, 80s; but 
now are abated about a quarter part in value. Some 
of the china ware, toys, and lacquer ware will sell 


1812-1815. IMPORTANCE OF SALEM. 409 

well, but no great quantity. As for ambergris, we 
often have it from the West Indies, and it is sold 
for about 3 per ounce, For musk, pearls, and dia- 
monds, I believe some of them may sell well, but I 
understand not their value.' 

" Thus early, it seems, was the taste for Chinese 
and Japanese goods germ of future sestheticism 
implanted in the American colonies; but when it 
comes to pearls and diamonds, the quiet Salem 
burgher, descendant of three generations of devout 
clergymen, ' understands not their value.' Yet he 
believes that some of them will sell well, even in 

During the struggle for American independence 
Salem sent out one hundred and fifty-eight priva- 
teers, carrying about two thousand guns which took 
in all four hundred and forty-five prizes more than 
half the prizes made by our entire maritime forces 
in this war only fifty-four of the privateers being 
lost by capture or shipwreck. In short, when we 
remember that the important seaports of Boston, 
Newport, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and 
Savannah were successively in the hands of the 
enemy during that struggle, it would be difficult to 
understand how the vast maritime operations of the 
rebelling colonists could have been effectively car- 
ried on had it not been for the open port of Salem. 

In the course of the War of 1812 Salem sent 
forty privateers to sea. A number of these have 
been noticed in other chapters as being well 
worthy of extended notice, but many of the others 
rendered services of value, notwithstanding the fact 
that usually they were small vessels mounting one 
to five guns and manned by fewer than forty men. 
Of this class the 1-gun schooner Buckskin, Captain 
I. Bray, may be taken as an example. In one cruise 
she took four well-laden schooners, retook a Kenne- 
bunk brig, and recaptured the American brig Hesper, 
which had been seized by the British frigate Maid- 


stone. Among the Buckskin's prizes was the schooner 
Nelson, laden with oil, furs, fish, etc., and a schooner 
from Halifax bound for Quebec, laden with military 
stores and having on board as passengers Colonel 
Pearson, of the English army, his wife and family. 
The Buckskin was captured early in the war. 

More successful than the Buckskin was the ship 
John, Captain J. Crowninshield. This handsome ves- 
sel was heavily armed and manned, carrying six- 
teen guns and a complement of one hundred and 
sixty men, which made her one of the most formi- 
dable privateers afloat at the beginning of the war. 
After a short cruise of about three weeks, in July, 
1812, the John returned to port, having captured 
eleven vessels, of which three were destroyed and 
one was recaptured. Those that arrived in port 
were the brig Ceres; the schooner Union, from Ja- 
maica for Quebec, with one hundred and forty-six 
puncheons of rum (the vessel and cargo being esti- 
mated to be worth thirty thousand dollars); the cop- 
pered brig Elizabeth, of three hundred tons, from 
Gibraltar for Quebec, in ballast, carrying four guns 
and twelve men; the ship Apollo, of four hundred 
tons and mounting eight 18-pounders; and a 
schooner from Jamaica with one hundred and sixty 
puncheons of rum. Three brigs, laden with lumber, 
were captured, but as they were inconvenient to 
handle they were released. Afterward the John 
captured the valuable brig Henry, from Liverpool 
for Halifax, laden with crates, salt, and coal; the 
ship Jane, of Port Glasgow; the brig Neptune, a new, 
light brig from Gibraltar bound for Halifax; the 
schooner Blonde, from Dominica for St. John's; and 
a schooner from Jamaica with one hundred and 
sixty puncheons of rum aboard. All of these prizes 
reached Salem excepting the new brig from Gibral- 
tar, which was sent into Boston. The John shared 
the fate of the Buckskin, being captured by the enemy 
early in the war. 


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The career of the Active, Captain Patterson, was 
short, that vessel being captured July 16, 1812, off 
Cape Sable, by the British 36-gun frigate Spartan, 
Captain Brenton. The Active was a schooner carry- 
ing only two guns and a complement of twenty men. 
Two days later the Spartan also captured the priva- 
teer sloop Actress, Captain GK Lumsden, of New 
Haven. The sloop carried four guns and fifty-three 
men. She had been in commission only seven days. 

The Alfred, Captain Williams, was a brig of 
about the same force as the John, mounting sixteen 
guns and having a complement of one hundred and 
thirty men. She sailed from Salem on a cruise Au- 
gust 16, 1812, and one of her first prizes was the 
brig Diamond, of two hundred and twenty tons and 
twelve guns, with a full cargo of cotton and log- 
wood and two thousand five hundred dollars in gold. 
Another valuable prize was the brig George, of two 
hundred and seventy tons, laden with sugar and 
cotton. Each of these vessels was from Brazil, and 
they were valued at one hundred and twenty thou- 
sand dollars. The brig Tercilla and the Ciirfew also 
were taken by the Alfred', the former, laden with fish, 
from St. John's bound for Bermuda, was burned at 
sea, and the latter, from Nova Scotia for St. Lucia, 
with a cargo of fish and oil, was sent into Marble- 
head. The Diamond and the George were sent into 
Salem. On February 23, 1814, the Alfred, when 
three months out on her last cruise, was captured 
by the English sloop of war fipervier and the frigate 

The Thrasher and the Terrible seem to have been 
most formidable in their names. The former, com- 
manded by Captain E. Evans, took the brig Tor Abbey, 
laden with dry fish, which was sent into Cape Ann, 
while the latter, scarcely more than an open boat, 
captured a schooner laden with a few hogsheads of 
rum (which was sent into Eastport), two small ves- 
sels (which were sent into Salem), and the schooner 

412 PRIVATEERS OP SALEM. 1812-1815. 

Harmony, of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, which also was 
brought safely into port. The Thrasher also cap- 
tured the 350-ton ship Britannia, mounting six guns, 
and sent her into port. 

One of the smallest of Salem's privateers was 
the John and George, carrying only one 12-pounder 
and two 3-pounders, with a complement of thirty- 
eight all told. This little craft made several valu- 
able captures, among them being the ship Ned, of 
Glasgow, carrying ten 9-pounders sufficient, had 
they been fully manned and handled, to have blown 
the puny John and George out of water and a crew 
of sixteen men. She was laden with timber, and 
surrendered after a sharp fight. She was sent into 

The privateer schooner Revenge, Captain J. Sin- 
clair, sent into Portland the British schooners Robin 
and Neptune into Cape Ann, the latter being laden 
with fish, salt, and oil. The Revenge also captured 
the brig Bacchus, of Port Glasgow, and sent her into 
Salem. In endeavoring to take another schooner 
the Revenge drove her ashore on the coast of Nova 
Scotia and burned her. Not long after this the Re- 
venge was captured by the enemy. 

The GnncZer, Captain N. Lindsey, before she was 
captured by the English, was a fairly successful 
craft. She sent into New London the ship Arabella, 
from England bound for the West Indies. The 
Arabella was of five hundred tons, coppered, mounted 
eight guns, and in every respect was a first-class ves- 
sel. She was laden with plantation utensils. The 
Growler also took a brig, which was released after 
every article of value had been taken out of her. 
Among the privateer's other prizes were the 
schooner Prince of Wales and the brig Ann. The 
schooner was released, after a few pipes of Madeira 
wine had been taken out of her, as being of more 
trouble than she was worth, but the brig was sent 
into Marblehead. She mounted ten guns, and was 

bound for New Providence from Liverpool with a 
cargo of drygoods and crates which was valued at 
one hundred thousand dollars. On July 7, 1813, the 
Growler was captured by the British 18-gun sloop of 
war Electro, off St. Peters, after a chase of six hours. 

The Wasp, Captain E. Ewing (or Ervin), also was 
a Salem privateer that was captured by an English 
cruiser, but not until she inflicted some injury on the 
enemy's commerce. She was a sloop mounting only 
two guns. After sending a schooner into Machias 
she was chased July 31 (by another account June 9), 
1813, by the British man-of-war Bream, mounting 
ten guns. Realizing the helplessness of giving 
battle to the cruiser, Captain Ewing made every 
effort to escape. The Bream gave chase, and for nine 
hours kept the Wasp in sight and gained on her. 
When in easy gunshot the English opened a heavy 
fire, which the Americans returned as well as they 
could for forty minutes, when they surrendered. 
The British lieutenant commanding the Bream 
treated his prisoners with exceptional courtesy. 

Among the privateers of Salem lost by shipwreck 
were the Gallinipper and the Dart. The former, Cap- 
tain T. Wellman, captured a schooner, which was 
released on the payment of ransom. On May 2, 
1813, the Gallinipper was chased ashore by the Eng- 
lish 20-gun sloop of war Rattler and destroyed. The 
Dart, Captain William Davis, was little more than 
an open boat, and was cast away early in the strug- 
gle. She had captured the snow Friends, a vessel of 
two hundred and ninety tons, mounting six guns, and 
a brig laden with rum. The Dart also had taken the 
brigs Concord, Hope, and Diana. 

The privateer Alexander, Captain Benjamin 
Crowninshield, was a splendid 18-gun ship with a 
complement of one hundred and twenty men. She 
was chased ashore May 19, 1813, by the Rattler and 
Bream. Previously she had taken several prizes, one 
of them the brig Edward, mounting eight guns, from 


Brazil for London, with one hundred and eighty 
bales of cotton. This prize was sent into Salem. 
The Alexander also seized a brig of sixteen guns, 
laden with drygoods and gunpowder, and a schooner, 
the latter being released after the valuable portions 
of her cargo had been taken out. When chased by 
the Rattler and Bream, the Alexander was so hard 
pressed that only twenty of her crew were able to 
get ashore; most of her other men, however, had 
been detailed to man the seven prizes the privateer 
had taken, so that the number of prisoners was not 
so large as might have been supposed. The Alex- 
ander had over one hundred prisoners, who were re- 
captured. The English managed to float the priva- 
teer off and carried her into Halifax. 

The career of one of the Alexander's prizes is espe- 
cially noteworthy. This was the French privateer 
Invincible Napoleon, a vessel mounting sixteen guns. 
She had been taken from the French by a British 
sloop of war. The Alexander fell in with the Invincible 
'Napoleon, under her new masters, in the English 
Channel, and captured her after a hard struggle and 
sent her into Cape Ann. On the night of May 16, 
1813, while lying at her anchorage in this place, the 
Invincible Napoleon was re-recaptured by the boats 
of the British frigates Shannon and Tenedos, which 
had gallantly pulled into the port, under cover of 
night, and attacked her. The vessel was anchored 
too far from the fort to receive any assistance from 
the garrison, so the British succeeded in carrying 
her out. But before the English masters could carry 
this unlucky ship to a place of safety she was cap- 
tured by the American privateer Young Tcazer, and 
arrived at Portland about June 1st. After refit- 
ting at this place, the Invincible Napoleon put to sea 
for a cruise, under Captain P. Desterbecho, with 
sixteen guns and sixty men. On August 16, 1814, the 
misnamed Invincible Napoleon was captured for the 
fifth time by the British cruiser Armide, after having 

1812-1815. THE NANCY AND JPKOJUJXJ. 41 & 

thrown overboard ten of her guns in the long chase 
that preceded the capture. 

The Salem privateer Nancy, Captain R Smart, 
took the brig Resolution, laden with flour, and sent 
her into Portland, while the Timothy Pickering, al- 
though fitted out for the avowed purpose of seizing 
vessels evading the Non-importation Law, made sev- 
eral valuable captures. She was a three-masted ves- 
sel and well appointed. She took the Eliza Ann and 
sent her into Bastport. The British sloop of war 
Martin appeared of that place soon afterward and 
threatened to lay the town in ashes if the Eliza Ann 
were not given up. The people of the place were not 
so easily frightened, and, returning a defiant answer, 
they awaited the promised attack. The Martin soon 
opened a feeble, ill-directed fire, which the Ameri- 
cans returned with spirit, and after a : few shots in- 
duced the sloop of war to withdraw. The Timothy 
Pickering also- captured the brig Dart and sent her 
into Salem. 

In no other privateer from Salem was the com- 
mand to " sink and destroy " so well carried out as 
in the Frolic, Captain Odiorne. Nearly all of the 
eleven prizes taken by this fortunate vessel were 
burned alt 'sea. Some of them were the ship Reprisal, 
from Scotland bound for the Bay of Chaleur; the 
brig Friends, of Bristol (England), for Pictou; the 
brig Betsey; the galliot Guttle Hoffnung, of Ports- 
mouth (England); the brig Jane Gordon, of London, 
carrying eight guns and twenty men; and the 
schooner Encouragement, from Antigua for Nova 
Scotia, having on board twenty hogsheads of sugar, 
twenty hogshead of molasses, and five of rum. All 
of these vessels were destroyed after their officers 
and crews and the most valuable portions of their 
cargoes had been transferred to the privateer. In 
this way the Frolic soon became dangerously 
crowded with prisoners, and as a means of getting 
rid of them they were placed in one of the prizes, 

416 PRIVATEERS OP SALEM. 1812-1815. 

the schooner Hunter, and sent to England. In the 
same way the prize schooners Vigilant and Susan were 
disposed of. Two of the Frolic's prizes were of such 
value that they were placed in charge of prize crews 
and sent into port. They were the ship Grotius, of 
London, which was sent into Portland, and the 
schooner Traveller, which put into Squam. The 
latter had aboard one hundred and nineteen hogs- 
heads and sixty barrels of sugar, besides a quantity 
of coffee. 

Almost as lucky as the Frolic was the General 
Stark, a lugger mounting only two guns and manned 
by twelve men. One of her first prizes was a one- 
hundred-and-thirty-ton schooner, from St. John's to 
the West Indies, which was sent into Machias. The 
General Stark also took the brig Cossack, manned by 
twelve men, bound for Bermuda from Martinique, 
and having in her hold one hundred and thirty- 
three hogsheads, two tierces and sixty-eight bar- 
rels of sugar. When the General Stark made this 
capture she had only eight men aboard, the others 
being absent in a prize. The crew of the Cossack was 
kept aboard, while three men and a boy were sent 
to her from the General Stark as a prize crew, leaving 
only four persons in the privateer. In this critical 
condition the two vessels made for port, the Cossack 
arriving at Georgetown, South Carolina, without 
mishap. The vessel and her cargo were valued at 
four thousand dollars. The Cossack was purchased 
for five thousand dollars, and was commissioned as 
an 8-gun privateer, under Captain J. Nash, May, 1813. 
The General Stark took another prize, a sloop, but 
she was lost on Cape Cod. 

By the close of the year 1813 the receipts from 
the sale of prizes brought into Salem amounted to 
$675,695.93. From this time on, however, this port 
was rigorously blocked by the overwhelming mari- 
time forces of the enemy. At the beginning of the 
war the New England ports were peculiarly free 

1818-1814. CAPTURES BY THE DIOMEDB. 417 

from blockades, the English believing that those 
States were opposed to war, and consequently it was 
good policy to befriend them. The error was dis- 
covered after the war had been in progress a year, 
and then the British established a rigorous blockade. 
The list of Salem privateers that had been captured 
by the enemy down to November, 1813, includes the 
schooners Regulator, Active, Enterprise, and Cossack, 
and the boat Owl. New and better vessels quickly 
supplied the places of those that were lost or cap- 
tured, and in spite of the blockade the Salem priva- 
teer managed to get to sea. 

The Diomede, Captain J. Crowninshield, was one 
of the most successful privateers toward the close 
of the war. In a short cruise she took six vessels 
and brought thirty-five prisoners to Salem. Some 
of her prizes in this and subsequent ventures were 
the schooners Mary and Joseph, Hope, William, and 
Traveller, the ships Cod Hook and Upton, and the 
brigs Friends, Providence, Harmony, and Recovery. 
The Upton 'was not taken without a severe con- 
test. She mounted sixteen guns and had one hun- 
dred and four men aboard, and although many of 
these were passengers they gave a willing hand, 
and, taken altogether, made a formidable defense. 
They did not surrender until one man had been killed 
and one wounded. After making this long list of 
valuable prizes the Diomede herself, while in a fog, 
on June 25, 1814, was captured by the enemy and 
sent into Halifax. 

The little privateers Fly, Viper, Scorpion, Leech, 
and General Putnam also did good service before the 
war ended. The Fly, Captain H. De Koven, took the 
schooner George, laden with drygoods, and sent her 
into port, and also the sloop Experiment, laden 
with drygoods, hardware, and lumber, which ar- 
rived safely in Machias. The Viper seized a schooner 
that pretended to be a Spaniard but was discov- 
ered to have a British license. She was sent 


into Newport. The Viper also took a schooner 
with a cargo of rum and sugar, which reached 
Newport, and another schooner laden with dry- 
goods, which was sent into Salem. The Scorpion, 
Captain J. Osborn, seized a sloop mounting one gun, 
which was sent into Salem, and a schooner, which 
was destroyed at sea. The Leech, in 1814, captured 
a schooner and ransomed it, and another schooner 
which, after being divested of its valuables, was 
given up to the prisoners. The career of the General 
Putnam was brief, but not without value. She took 
the handsome 380-ton ship Ocean, of and for London, 
with a cargo of masts, thirty-five bowsprits, and 
other timber for the use of the Admiralty. She was 
sent into Salem. Subsequently the General Putnam 
herself was captured by the enemy. 

The last of the Salem privateers to be noticed 
is the Cadet. This was a singularly fortunate vessel. 
Among her first captures was the schooner Betsey and 
Jane, from St. John's for Castine, with one hundred 
and nineteen packages of drygoods valued at one 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. She was sent 
into Thomaston. The Cadet also took the schooner 
Mary, from St. John's for Castine, having a cargo of 
drygoods, with which vessel she had a singular ex- 
perience. It seems that the Mary was being escorted 
by a heavily armed schooner, and she had not been 
more than a few hours out of port when the privateer 
diaries Steicart, Captain H. Purcell, of Boston, hove 
in sight and began an action with the armed 
schooner. Just when the battle was getting critical 
a fourth sail appeared on the scene, which the com- 
mander of the Charles Stewart took to be an English 
cruiser and sheered off. As a matter of fact, it was 
the American privateer Cumberland, of Portland. As 
the Charles Stewart disappeared below the horizon 
the Cumberland closed with the armed schooner and 
took up the battle where the Charles Stewart had left 
off. But the Englishman was too heavy for the pri- 


vateer, and the latter, after sustaining a loss of one 
man killed and one wounded, was glad to make her 
escape. Meantime the Mary had become separated 
from her escort, and it was then that she fell into 
the clutches of the Cadet, and was captured and car- 
ried into Thomaston. 



ONE of the shortest, and at the same time one of 
the most successful, cruises made by an American 
privateer in this war was that of the armed schooner 
Kemp, Captain Jacobs, of Baltimore. This vessel 
had made two cruises early in 1814, and sailed from 
Wilmington, North Carolina, November 29, 1814, for 
the West Indies. Early in the evening of the second 
day out, while in the Gulf Stream, latitude 32 32' 
north, longitude 77 west, Captain Jacobs descried 
a number of vessels apparently sailing in company, 
and from their disposition he was satisfied that 
they were merchantmen under the convoy of one or 
two ships of war. For the remainder of that night 
Captain Jacobs cautiously made his way toward the 
strangers, and about daylight, December 2d, he was 
near enough to distinguish eight merchantmen es- 
corted by a frigate. As the Kemp showed a disposi- 
tion to hang on the outskirts of the convoy, the frig- 
ate, about noon, gave chase and drove the privateer 

This was just what the Americans most desired, 
and making short tacks windward Captain Jacobs 
drew the frigate away from the merchantmen. The 
frigate's people evidently thought they had a good 
chance of overtaking the privateer, notwithstanding 
her superiority in sailing windward, and they kept 
up the chase far into the night. Seizing a favor- 
able moment, Captain Jacobs suddenly concealed all 



his lights, and under cover of darkness gave the 
enemy the slip and immediately put back for the 

At eleven o'clock the next morning, December 
3d, the privateer came in sight of the convoy, but 
nothing could be seen of the frigate. This was the 
Kemp's golden opportunity and she improved it to 
the fullest extent. Wasting no time with prelimi- 
nary maneuvering the Kemp made straight for the 
convoy, which Captain Jacobs soon discovered to 
consist of three ships, three brigs, and two schoon- 
ers. The English masters of the merchantmen were 
not slow in recognizing the Kemp as the privateer 
which their protecting man-of-war had chased so 
furiously and so fruitlessly the day before, and, real- 
izing that they must now rely entirely on their own 
guns, they prepared to give battle. So far as num- 
bers went the merchantmen had the advantage, for 
there were eight of them each armed more or less 
heavily against one little schooner. 

By the time the Kemp was in gunshot she found 
all the merchantmen close together drawn up in line 
of battle and presenting a formidable array of black 
muzzles toward her. Not waiting for the privateer 
to open the fight the Englishmen, at 2 p. M., bore 
away for the Kemp, and as each ship passed deliv- 
ered a broadside. Paying no attention to this Cap- 
tain Jacobs reserved his fire, tacked, and passing 
directly through the enemy's line delivered both 
broadsides at close quarters. This had the effect 
of throwing the enemy into confusion. In their 
efforts to attack the audacious privateer the mer- 
chantmen only succeeded in getting in one another's 
way, so that only one or two of them could bring 
their guns to bear. Captain Jacobs was fully alive 
to his advantage, and skillfully keeping one of the 
merchantmen between his ship and the others he 
was in a position to deal with one at a time. At 
half past two o'clock Captain Jacobs ran alongside 


one of the brigs, the Portsea, carrying eight guns 
and twenty-six men, being laden with sugar and 
coffee, and boarded, carrying her without loss, ex- 
cepting for one seaman wounded. 

Half an hour later the Kemp ran alongside one 
of the ships, the Rosabella, of sixteen guns and thirty- 
five men, when First Officer Myers and Sailing-Mas- 
ter Sellers, at the head of eight men, sprang to her 
deck and carried her after a brief struggle with her 
men, three of whom were injured. Shortly after- 
ward Captain Jacobs boarded one of the schooners 
and carried her without opposition. The next vessel 
to be attacked was the largest of the brigs. Here 
a more determined opposition was met. The strug- 
gle lasted from fifteen to twenty minutes, when this 
vessel also was captured, making four prizes out of 
a convoy of eight vessels. Captain Jacobs would 
have secured the remaining four merchantmen had 
it not been for the fact that he could not spare an- 
other man for a prize crew. As it was, he now had 
almost as many prisoners as seamen, and, being scat- 
tered about in four different vessels, there was dan- 
ger of their rising and recovering their ships. 

Deeming it prudent to return to America Cap- 
tain Jacobs allowed the rest of the merchantmen to 
escape, and now gave his attention to getting his 
prizes into port. Nothing was seen of the frigate 
that had so furiously chased the Kemp when the con- 
voy was first discovered. Her commander probably 
fell in with the remnant of his convoy a day or so 
later, and learned, to his sorrow, that while thunder- 
ing over the ocean waves in chase of the privateer 
the latter was quietly helping herself to the mer- 

The total force of the eight merchant ships the 
Kemp engaged was forty-six guns and one hundred 
and thirty-four men, as opposed to the privateer's 
twelve guns and one hundred and thirty men. Cap- 
tain Jacobs took seventy-one prisoners. The Ameri- 


cans had only one man, John Irwin, killed, and four 
wounded. The prizes were found to be laden with 
valuable cargoes, consisting mostly of sugar and 
coffee. The Rosabella and her cargo alone were esti- 
mated to be worth three hundred thousand dollars, 
but unfortunately, while endeavoring to enter 
Charleston harbor, she grounded on the bar and 
became a total loss. The wreck afterward was 
burned by a British war brig. One of the schooners 
engaged was the Cossack, formerly the 0. H. Perry. 
The other prizes of the Kemp succeeded in reaching 
Southern ports. In her career in this war the Kemp 
is credited with fifteen prizes. 

Another eminently successful privateer was the 
Surprise, Captain Barnes, of Baltimore. This ves- 
sel arrived at Newport July 15, 1814, after a cruise 
of one hundred and three days in the English and 
Irish Channels and off the Western Isles, in which 
she had been chased sixteen times and had taken 
twelve or thirteen British merchantmen. Refitting 
in Newport, the Surprise again made for English 
waters, and after making a number of prizes she put 
into Brest, and on December 24, 1814, received a 
salute of eleven guns from the French admiral. On 
January 9, 1815, she put to sea on another venture. 
When five days out she was hotly pursued for sev- 
eral hours by a British war ship, which fired fifty 
shots at her. Evading the war ship in the night, 
Captain Barnes, about eleven o'clock on the morning 
of January 28th, discovered a sail on his lee quarter. 
As the wind was light he manned his sweeps so as 
to draw away from the stranger, which had every 
appearance of being a heavy war vessel. The 
stranger seemed equally anxious to come to close 
quarters, and holding a better wind managed to get 
within gunshot by half past twelve o'clock, at which 
time she was flying English colors. 

Seeing that an action was unavoidable Captain 
Barnes showed American colors and answered the 


Englishman's first broadside with spirit. A heavy 
cannonading was kept up until a quarter past two 
o'clock, when Captain Barnes, by the aid of his 
sweeps, gained a raking position under the enemy's 
stern, and after pouring in a destructive broadside 
compelled the ship to surrender. She proved to be 
the English ship Star, carrying eight 12-pounders 
and a crew of twenty-six men, from Batavia for Lon- 
don, -laden with coffee and other valuable East In- 
dies produce. The Star had one man killed and one 
wounded, while several shots had taken effect in 
her hull, and her sails and rigging were cut to pieces. 
No one in the Surprise was hurt, but some damage 
was done to her sails, and her foremast and fore- 
topmast were wounded by round shot. 

Removing a large portion of the Star's cargo to 
his own ship, Captain Barnes sent eighteen men and 
a prize master aboard and proceeded with her to 
the United States. While drawing near the Ameri- 
can coast, February 26, 1815, the ships, during a 
snowstorm, became separated, but they both arrived 
in New York safely. The entire cargo of the Star 
was estimated to be worth three hundred thousand 
dollars. It consisted of one thousand one hundred 
and eighty bags of sugar, five thousand and twenty- 
one bags of coffee, forty-five tubs of camphor, two 
hundred and ninety-seven bags of sago, twenty-two 
bales of nankeens, eighty-three cases of cinnamon, 
and forty-five cases of tortoise shell. In all, the 
Surprise is credited with thirty-four prizes. 

One of the most satisfactory cruises in this war 
was that in which the privateer Caroline, Captain 
Almeda, of Baltimore, captured two "traitor ves- 
sels." On November 20, 1813, this privateer fell in 
with the American sloop Osiris, Captain Driggs, from 
Martinique for St. Bartholomew, with a cargo of 
molasses. Driggs, supposing that the Caroline was 
a British war vessel, came aboard and showed his 
British license, remarking that only recently he had 


supplied Captain Oliver, of the English man-of-war 
Valiant, with potatoes and apples. Driggs further 
said that he had received pay for these supplies and 
added that there would be no doubt of his being hung 
if he fell in with an American. Captain Almeda 
promptly seized the Osiris and placed Mr. Canon- 
ing, with a prize crew, in charge of her, with instruc- 
tions to make for port. The other " traitor vessel " 
taken by the Caroline was the brig Criterion, with 
eighty hogsheads of rum aboard. She was sent into 
Stonington, Connecticut, where she was condemned. 
The Caroline was fortunate in making a number 
of prizes in the course of the war; but her first, a 
brig laden with sugar and molasses, was recaptured 
by the enemy while attempting to enter Charleston 
harbor. The Caroline was more fortunate with her 
other prizes in this cruise, as she succeeded in send- 
ing into a North Carolina port the brig Abel, from 
the West Indies, laden with rum and sugar, and a 
schooner from Martinique, with one hundred and 
twenty hogsheads of molasses, into Charleston. The 
latter had both English and Swedish papers. The 
Caroline also took a brig from St. Lucia, with one 
hundred and forty hogsheads and two hundred bar- 
rels of sugar aboard, and sent her into Elizabeth 
City, North Carolina. Besides these the Caroline 
captured ten vessels, which were depleted of the 
most available portions of their cargoes and burned. 
Captain Almeda returned to Charleston only because 
his vessel could not hold any more goods. One of 
his prizes, the schooner Joseph, from Surinam, laden 
with coffee, rum, and sugar, in endeavoring to run. 
into Georgetown, South Carolina, nearly became 
wrecked, but was saved by the skill of Lieutenant 
Monk, of the navy. 1 

1 In a subsequent cruise, 1814, the Caroline took the brig Elizabeth, for 
Kingston (Jamaica), which was sent into Charleston : the schooner Jason, 
of Nassau, which was destroyed at sea; the brig Experience, from Jamaica 


Quite as fortunate as the Caroline was the Mam- 
moth, Captain Bowland, also of Baltimore. Her first 
prize was the coppered-brig Camelion, from the West 
Indies for New Brunswick, laden with rum and mo- 
lasses, which was sent into port; and her second was 
the sloop Farmer, with a cargo of provisions, which 
vessel was sunk. She also took the brig Britannia, 
from St. Andrews for Liverpool, laden with lumber, 
which was destroyed, and three other brigs in bal- 
last, which also were burned at sea. While off the 
coast of Newfoundland the Mammoth had an action 
with an English transport having on board between 
three and four hundred troops. After a severe en- 
gagement, in which the privateer had one man 
wounded, the Americans hauled off for " something 
that was more valuable to them than mere men." 

Later in the war the Mammoth took the brig Ceres, 
of Glasgow, laden with brandy, and made a cartel 
of her. In this cruise of only seven weeks the priva- 
teer took sixteen English merchantmen. For seven- 
teen days she hovered off Cape Clear, where most of 
her captures were made. In all the Mammoth took 
twenty-one vessels and released on parole three hun- 
dred prisoners. She arrived at Portsmouth with a 
full cargo. In her last cruise she was not so 
fortunate, returning to New York in 1815, after a 
long and fruitless search for British merchantmen. 
She was chased several times by the enemy's war 
ships, and on one occasion, during a calm, she was 
attacked by their boats, but managed to repel them. 

for Gonaives, the last being chased ashore on the island of Cuba by the 
enemy and was lost. Two other vessels were relieved of the most valu- 
able portions of their cargoes and then burned before the Caroline re- 
turned to Charleston. In her last cruise she burned the sloop Eliza and 
made a cartel of the schooner Mariner, after taking out her cargo of dry- 
goods. The Caroline also made a cartel of the brig Stephen, carrying 
fourteen guns and a crew of thirty men, from St. Thomas for Cura$oa. 
The Caroline returned from this cruise to Wilmington, North Carolina, 
with a full cargo. 



A noteworthy feature of the maritime war of 
1812-1815 was the number of instances in which our 
privateers were pitted against British vessels of 
the same class. When these amateur cruisers of 
the war met it generally resulted in a hard-fought 
battle, and in many cases some desperate struggles 
took place. One of the first actions of this kind 
occurred August 4, 1812, two weeks before the first 
frigate engagement of the war, when the American 
privateer Shadow, Captain J. Taylor, of Philadelphia, 
fought the British letter of marque May (or Nancy), 
Captain Affleck. Half an hour after meridian, Au- 
gust 3, 1812, a sail was discovered from the mast- 
head of the Shadow, to which the Americans immedi- 
ately gave chase. The stranger was soon made out 
to be a large vessel, and Captain Taylor sent all 
hands to quarters. After a hard run of five hours 
the Shadow came up with the supposed merchant- 
man, but just as they were about to order the 
stranger to surrender the Americans were unpleas- 
antly surprised to find themselves in the presence 
of a British man-of-war. No time was lost in taking 
in the Shadow's square sail and staysail and hauling 
by the wind. The Englishman promptly tacked in 
pursuit, and opened a brisk fire from his chase guns, 
gome of his shot came aboard the privateer, but as 
the damage was speedily repaired it did not cause 
the Americans to lose ground. Being on her best 



point of sailing the schooner gradually drew away 
from the man-of-war, and by eight o'clock that even- 
ing lost sight of her. 

At 12.30 P. M. on the following day, August 4th, 
another sail was reported from the privateer's mast- 
head. This stranger was to the east, standing 
westward. Notwithstanding his narrow escape of 
the day before, Captain Taylor, on sighting this 
stranger, made all efforts to overtake her. In their 
eagerness to come up with the chase, however, the 
Americans got a greater press of canvas on their 
vessel than her masts could bear, and at half 
past five o'clock the square-sail boom was carried 
away. The wreck was cleared as soon as possi- 
ble, and by rigging out the lower studding-sail 
boom, and setting the square sail again, Captain 
Taylor had the satisfaction of again gaining on the 

At six o'clock the vessels were so near that the 
stranger began firing from her stern guns. With- 
out replying to this Captain Taylor, by seven o'clock, 
had gained a favorable position and opened from 
his battery. It was now quite dark, and after the 
two ships had maintained a running action for half 
an hour the stranger hoisted a light in her mizzen 
rigging, to which Captain Taylor responded with a 
similar signal and at the same time hailed. The 
reply was that she was from Liverpool. This an- 
swer was sufficient to induce the American com- 
mander to order the stranger to send a boat aboard 
with her papers. In a few minutes the boat came 
alongside and an officer and two men boarded the 
Shadow, but they failed to bring the ship's papers 
with them. They were detained aboard while an 
American boat in charge of Third Officer Thomas 
Yorke put off to the stranger to demand the papers. 
On gaining the Englishman's deck and making 
known Ms errand, Mr. Yorke was curtly informed 
that the demand would not be complied with. A 


note addressed to Captain Taylor was then given to 
him, and Mr. Yorke returned to the ship. 

In this note the British commander declared that 
his ship was the British letter of marque May (or 
Nancy), from Liverpool, Captain Affleck, bound for 
St. Lucia, and carried fourteen guns and a comple- 
ment of fifty men. Captain Affleck further declared 
that the Orders in Council had been rescinded and 
that a change of ministry had taken place in Eng- 
land. Although the Hay, to all appearances, was 
a formidable vessel, Captain Taylor was determined 
to have it out with her, and he again sent his boat 
aboard her with a peremptory demand for her 
papers. As this was again refused both vessels, at 
half past eight o'clock, opened a spirited fire. After 
the action had lasted about an hour a shot wounded 
the Shadow's sailmaker, William Craft. About ten 
o'clock Captain Taylor dropped astern, intending to 
remain within gunshot all night and resume the 
fight at daylight. The weather was very squally and 
dark, so that in order to make sure that the enemy 
could not give her the slip under cover of darkness 
the Shadow kept within easy gunshot, and at inter- 
vals ran close up to the Englishman and for a few 
minutes kept up a brisk fire. 

On the return of day, having improved the in- 
tervening hours in repairing damages, Captain Tay- 
lor ran close under the stern of the enemy and began 
another severe action. It was not long before the 
Shadow received a shot in her starboard bow which 
shattered the wood ends, started the plank-sheer, 
and smashed several timbers. At half past seven 
o'clock she received another shot, almost in the same 
place but on the port side, which knocked the car- 
riage of the port after gun to pieces, killed six men 
and wounded three. In spite of these heavy blows 
the Americans continued the fight for an hour 
longer, when Captain Taylor was killed by a ball in 
his left temple. Almost at the same time a shot 


struck under the port fore chains, between wind and 
water, which started a dangerous leak. The surviv- 
ing officers now decided to withdraw from a contest 
obviously unequal, and with three feet of water in 
the hold they drew away. The Shadow arrived in 
Philadelphia August 18th. She was refitted, and 
soon afterward sailed on another cruise. 1 

Later in the war the Shadow was captured by 
the enemy, and, on being refitted, was taken into 
their service under the name Fanny, carrying nine 
guns. While running from La Guayra to London, in 
1815, the Fanny was recaptured by the privateer 
Lawrence, of Baltimore, Captain E. Vearey. A prize 
crew was placed aboard the Fanny, but when near 
the American coasts they were driven into a Cuban 
port in distress. It is believed that on getting to 
sea again the Fanny was lost, with all hands. The 
Lawrence was one of the successful privateers of the 
war, taking in all thirteen merchantmen, and on one 
occasion beating off a British brig of war. 

Another action that took place between an 
American and a British privateer in the summer of 
1812 was that between the Globe, Captain J. Grant 
(by some accounts Gavet), of Baltimore, and the 
Boyd, of Liverpool. The Globe was one of the first of 
our privateers to get to sea in this war, and she was 
generally successful. On July 24, 1812, or a little 
more than a month after war had been declared, 
this privateer left the Chesapeake capes in com- 
pany with the privateer Cora. The Globe carried a 
complement of about ninety men and boys. Speak- 
ing the ship Marniion, of New Orleans for Baltimore, 
and the ship South Carolina, of and for the same 
ports, on the first and second days out, Captain 
Grant boarded a number of vessels, but met no ship 
he could attack until July 31st, when a sail was dis- 
covered and chased. In three hours the Globe was 

1 For action between the privateers Eossie and Jecmnie see page 806. 


within gunshot, when she began firing from her long 
torn, a 9-pounder amidships. The chase hoisted 
English colors and returned the fire with her two 
stern guns, 9-pounders. As it was blowing rather 
fresh at the time Captain Grant was unable to 
bring his broadside guns to bear, and so deter- 
mined to hold on his present course, notwithstand- 
ing the number of guns the enemy could bring into 

For forty minutes the unequal contest was main- 
tanied, both vessels crowding on canvas, but the 
American had a decided advantage in sailing. 
At last the Globe began to double on the enemy's 
quarter, when Captain Grant let go his forward 
division of guns, and, as his vessel gradually came 
abeam the chase, he opened with his entire broad- 
side guns, which had been carefully loaded with a 
double charge of round shot. After the first dis- 
charge the American gunners loaded with langrage 
and round shot. The Englishman returned the fire 
with spirit, answering broadside for broadside, and, 
as the vessels gradually edged toward each other, 
gave volley for volley of musketry and pistols. For 
an hour and a half this contest was kept up, when 
the stranger surrendered, announcing herself to be 
the Boyd, from New Providence for Liverpool, with 
a valuable cargo of coffee, dyewoods, and cotton. 
The Boyd carried two long 9-pounders, two short 12- 
pounders, and six long 6-pounders. Both vessels 
were very much cut up in sails, rigging, and hull; but, 
strange to say, no one had been hurt. Transferring 
the crew of the Boyd, excepting an officer and two 
men, to the Globe, Captain Grant placed a prize mas- 
ter and eight men aboard her, with orders to make 
the nearest American port. Seven of the English 
prisoners entered the Globe's crew. On the follow- 
ing day, August 1st, Captain Grant parted company 
with the Boyd and went in search of two other Eng- 
lish vessels, which were expected to pass that way 


in a day or two, the Boyd arriving in Philadelphia 
a few days later. 

On the day he parted from his prize, August 1st, 
Captain Grant gave chase to a schooner, but lost her 
in the night. He saw another sail that evening, but 
missed her also. At eleven o'clock on the follow- 
ing morning the Globe came in sight of Bermuda, 
and passing with gunshot cruised off the place under 
English colors. At sunset a sail was discovered 
directly ahead, but when near enough it was seen 
to be a British sloop of war. This, of course, was the 
time for the Globe to " show a clean pair of heels; " 
and that is what Captain Grant proceeded to do, 
with the Englishman in full chase. In an hour or so, 
however, the enemy gave up the hopeless endeavor 
to come up with the swift privateer. On the after- 
noon of the following day a schooner to windward 
was discovered and chased. As the wind had almost 
died away Captain Grant got out his sweeps, and 
from four to eight o'clock his men exerted them- 
selves to come up with the stranger. The Globe 
slowly overhauled the schooner, but it was night 
before she was within gunshot, and in the darkness 
she escaped. 

The Globe now began to run short of water, and 
by August 8th both officers and men were placed on 
an allowance of three quarts a day, the seamen ex- 
changing their liquor, quart for quart, for water. 
On the 14th the Globe chased and captured, without 
resistance, the English schooner Ann, mounting four 
guns and manned by nine men, from San Domingo 
for Guernsey, laden with mahogany and logwood. 
Several of the seamen in the Ann enlisted in the 
Globe. Captain Grant now shaped his course home- 
ward, arriving safely at Baltimore with his prize. 

Later in the war the Globe took a number of 
prizes, among them being the ship Sir Simon- Clark, 
carrying sixteen guns and thirty-nine men, from 
Jamaica for Leith. She was laden with a cargo of 


sugar, rum, and coffee, whicli was computed to be 
worth anywhere from one hundred thousand to one 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The merchant- 
man was not taken without a severe fight, the Ameri- 
cans finally carrying her by boarding, after a brisk 
cannon fire, in which four of the English were killed 
and their commander and three men were severely 
wounded. The second officer and drummer of the 
Globe were killed and one man was wounded. She 
was taken into Norfolk by a prize crew. While 
cruising off the coast of Portugal on another cruise, 
the Globe, then commanded by John Murphy, was 
attacked by an Algerine sloop of war. The action 
was continued, off and on, for three hours at half- 
gunshot distance, when the Algerine drew off, ap- 
parently in a bad condition. The privateer received 
no less than eighty-two shots through her sails, but 
had only two men wounded. 

Three other important prizes taken by the Globe 
in this war were the brig Kingston Packet, with a 
valuable cargo of rum aboard, which was sent into 
Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina; the ship Venus, car- 
rying fourteen guns, from Cadiz for Newfoundland, 
with a full cargo of salt; and the ship Seaton. The 
last was captured by the privateer Paul Jones, of 
New York, and was ordered to the United States 
in charge of a prize crew. The vessel, soon after 
parting company with the Paul Jones, proved unsea- 
worthy, and on meeting with the Globe she was 
burned at the request of her prize master. 1 

Probably no American privateer in this war had 
such a varied experience as the 11-gun schooner 
Matilda, Captain H. Kantin, of Philadelphia. She 
got to sea about July 15, 1812, and when a few days 
out captured a brig from San Domingo for London, 
which arrived at the Matilda's home port, August 
10th. A few days after taking this brig the Matilda 

1 For action between the Globe and two packets, see pp. 455-459. 


fell in with the English brig Ranger, Captain John 
Heard, which was taken only after a stubbornly con- 
tested action, in which the British commander was 
killed. The prize was sent into Philadelphia, and a 
newspaper of that city, under date of August 23, 
1812, notes: "Yesterday the remains of Captain 
Heard, of the British brig Ranger, were interred with 
the respect which honor and valor, even in an enemy, 
can never fail to inspire. Captain Heard was cap- 
tured, with his brig, by the privateer Matilda, of this 
port, after a smart action, in which he received a 
wound of which he unfortunately died. The funeral 
was attended by the officers of the United States 
army and navy now in this city and by the uniformed 
volunteer corps. The Philadelphia Blues, com- 
manded by Colonel L. Eush, performed the funeral 
honors. The war of freemen is not with virtuous 
men of any nation, but against the tyranny and op- 
pression of rulers, and generosity must even shed 
a tear over those whose unhappy lot is to be victims 
of their injustice." 

In July of 1813 the Matilda fell in with a large 
ship, which was mistaken by the Americans for a 
merchantman. She proved to be the privateer Lion, 
built as a frigate, to be presented by the English 
Government to the Turks, but later converted to 
private use. She was pierced for twenty-eight guns, 
and at the time she met the Matilda was manned by 
one hundred and twenty men. Captain Eantin did 
not discover the real force of this vessel until he had 
boarded her with nearly all his officers; and had 
he been promptly followed by his seamen he would 
have captured her, for most of the British crew had 
run below. A heavy sea, however, carried the two 
ships apart, leaving the American officers unsup- 
ported by their men. Taking in the situation at a 
glance the Englishmen rallied, and, after overpower- 
ing the officers of the privateer, made sail for the 
Matilda and soon compelled her to surrender. In 


this action Captain Eantin and twenty or thirty of 
his men were killed. The survivors were carried into 
Bahia, from which place they sailed for New York 
in the ship William, Captain Davis. 

The British immediately refitted the Matilda and 
sent her to England, but while in the English Chan- 
nel she was recaptured by the United States brig 
of war Argus, Master-Commandant William Henry 
Allen. A few days after taking the Matilda the Argus 
was captured by the Pelican, Allen dying from in- 
juries he received in the fight. 1 The notice quoted 
from a Philadelphia newspaper relative to the burial 
of Captain Heard, of the Ranger, will apply to the 
attention paid to both Eantin and Allen, the Eng- 
lish in both cases honoring the American command- 
ers in every possible way. But the Matilda was not 
yet safely " out of the woods," for shortly after her 
recapture by the Argus she was recaptured by a 
British 74-gun ship of the line. A British prize crew 
was placed aboard and ordered to England, but be- 
fore gaining a place of safety the Matilda was taken 
for the fourth time, being seized by the American 
privateer General Armstrong, and was sent into port. 

On April 24, 1813, the American privateer Ned, 
Captain J. Dawson, of Baltimore, arrived at New 
York via Long Island Sound from La Teste. She 
reported that while in latitude 44 54' north, longi- 
tude 15 west, she fell in with the privateer Malvina, 
from the Mediterranean for London, which vessel 
mounted ten guns 6- and 9-pounders and after a 
close action, lasting fifty-two minutes, captured her. 
The Americans had seven men badly wounded, while 
the commander of the Malvina was killed and a num- 
ber of his men wounded. The prize was found to be 
laden with wine. Mr. Penderson was placed aboard 
as a prize master, and carried her into a North Caro- 
lina port. 

i See Maclay's History of the United States Navy, vol. i, pp. 528-529. 


Keturning to America the Ned endeavored to 
enter the Chesapeake, but when she came in sight of 
the Capes, April 18th, she was chased by a 74-gun 
ship of the line and a frigate. Making her way north- 
ward, she tried, on the 19th, to run into the Delaware, 
but here also she was chased by the English block- 
ading ships, and when off Sandy Hook, on the 20th, 
she was driven away by a similar force. On April 
21st Captain Dawson managed to run the gantlet of 
four or five British war ships, and touched at New 
London for a Sound pilot, after which he made his 
way to New York. The Ned sailed again in the 
summer of 1813, this time under Captain Hackett, 
but on September 6th she was captured, after a 
chase of four days, by the British sloop of war 

On December 9, 1812, the privateer Saratoga, Cap- 
tain Charles W. Wooster, of New York, appeared off 
La Guayra and sent his first officer ashore, who re- 
ported to the American consul that his ship was 
twenty-four days from New York and had met no 
sail. On the following day Captain Wooster ran 
down and anchored in the roads, but a few minutes 
later a messenger hastened aboard with a note from 
the American consul advising Captain Wooster to 
weigh anchor and keep out of reach of the batteries, 
as the commandant had avowed his intention of sink- 
ing the privateer if she came to. Captain Wooster 
acted on the advice and stood off. Shortly after- 
ward he discovered a schooner standing down the 
coast, some miles to windward of La Guayra. Eun- 
ning down to her he boarded and captured her. Dry- 
goods valued at twenty thousand dollars were found 
in her hold. Early in the morning of the following 
day there was a heavy fog along the coast line, but 
about nine o'clock it lifted, revealing to Captain 
Wooster a brig some miles seaward endeavoring to 
make the port. The Saratoga stood for the stranger, 
and two hours later both vessels tacked off shore. 




To the people on shore it was known that the 
brig was the English letter of marque Rachel, from 
Greenock, armed with twelve long 9-pounders and 
carrying a complement of sixty men and boys. She 
had aboard a cargo valued at fifteen thousand 
pounds sterling. The news quickly spread that a 
naval engagement was imminent off the port, and 
in a short time all business was suspended, every- 
body hastening to the shore to witness the fight. 

After standing off shore some time the two ves- 
sels suddenly tacked landward, and when within five 
miles of the shore the Saratoga opened from her star- 
board bow gun, which was answered by the brig's 
port quarter guns. The two vessels maintained a 
heavy cannonading for a few minutes, when the 
Americans boarded and compelled the enemy to sur- 
render. On the part of the Americans one man was 
wounded, but in the Rachel only the second officer 
was unhurt, nearly all of her men having been killed 
or wounded. On December 13th Captain Wooster 
sent twenty-five prisoners with the second officer of 
the Rachel to La Guayra in the brig's longboat, to- 
gether with every article belonging to them as per- 
sonal property. 1 

About this time a small English privateer, name 
not given, was taken by the privateer Rapid, of 
Charleston. The Liberty, of Baltimore, also captured 
a British privateer, and after divesting her of guns 
and valuables gave her up to the prisoners. A 
battle also took place between the privateer Midas, 
Captain Thompson, of Baltimore, and the Dash. The 
Midas carried eight guns and thirty-five men, while 
her opponent mounted five and was manned by forty 
men. The action took place off Tybee lighthouse, 
where the Dash had captured three coasting vessels 
from Savannah. Learning the Englishman's where- 
abouts Captain Thompson put to sea, and coming 
upon the Dash captured her with all her prizes. 

1 For action between the Saratoga and a packet, see pp. 454-455. 


One of the last actions between privateers in this 
war took place on January 31, 1815. At noon of this 
day the 16-gun brig Macdonough, Captain O. Wilson, 
of Rhode Island, discovered a large ship to leeward, 
some six miles off. As the Americans drew nearer 
it was noticed that she was making signals and ap- 
parently had two rows of ports. By 1 P. M Captain 
Wilson had approached sufficiently near to discover 
that the lower row of ports was false, upon which 
he prepared for action. At 2 P. M. he bore up for the 
stranger's weather quarter and showed his colors, 
the stranger all this time waiting with his courses 
up for the attack. By 2.30 P. M. the vessels were 
within musket shot, when the action became severe. 
It was now observed that the stranger was using 
only seven guns to a broadside, but was pouring in 
a tremendous musketry fire, which led Captain Wil- 
son to believe that she had a large number of sol- 
diers aboard. At 3.30 P. M. the Macdonough passed 
close under the enemy's bow and raked with effect. 
It was then seen that the enemy's decks were 
crowded with troops, who were making good use of 
their small arms. Fifteen minutes later Captain 
Wilson found that his sails and rigging were serious- 
ly injured, while a large number of his men had been 
killed or wounded, besides which several shot had 
taken effect near the privateer's water line, which 
caused her to leak seriously. Seeing little chance of 
capturing the stranger Captain Wilson sheered off, 
while the Englishmen, also having had enough of 
the fight, made away in the direction of Teneriffe. 
It was noticed that many of her men were slung over 
her sides, stopping shot holes near her water line. 
The Macdonotigh arrived at Savannah March. 7th, hav- 
ing taken nine prizes in her entire career in this war. 



NOTWITHSTANDING the fact that the British main- 
tained a rigorous blockade off Sandy Hook and in 
Long Island Sound in the course of the war, New 
York managed to send to sea fifty-five privateers. 
The careers of many of these have been recorded 
in other chapters. Of the remaining the Benjamin 
Franklin was one of the first to get to sea, leaving 
port about July 24, 1812, and returning August 24th, 
in which time she made seven prizes and twenty- 
eight prisoners. This privateer was a schooner 
carrying eight guns and one hundred and twenty 
men, under the command of Captain J. Ingersoll. 
Her first prizes were the brigs Friends and Mary, 
which arrived safely in Boston, and the sloop Louisa 
Ann. The last was captured in a most daring man- 
ner. The sloop was securely anchored in Trinity 
harbor, Martinique, under the guns of a battery of 
twelve 18-pounders. She had a valuable cargo of 
molasses aboard, and was awaiting an opportunity 
to get to sea. Seven men from the privateer volun- 
teered to take her by surprise, and putting off in a 
boat they attacked the sloop and captured her. The 
Benjamin Franklin also captured the new and valu- 
able brig John, from La Guayra for Gibraltar, armed 
with ten 12-pounders and laden with coffee and 
cocoa, which was sent into New York; the brig Two 
Brothers, also sent into New York; and the schooner 
Success, from Newfoundland for New Brunswick, 


with two hundred and fifty barrels of salmon 

The privateers Divided We Fall and United We 
Stand, in keeping with their names, were generally 
found cruising in company. The former was com- 
manded by Captain J. Cropsy and the latter by Cap- 
tain W. Storey. One of their prizes was a brig 
mounting ten guns and having a very valuable 
cargo, which was sent into Savannah. The Divided 
We Fall also took and ransomed two vessels, sunk 
another, and gave up three others after the most 
desirable portions of their cargoes had been re- 
moved. Most of these vessels were known as 
" droghers," or West India trading vessels, which, as 
a rule, were richly laden. 

Of the privateers Flirt, Galloway, Hero, Henry 
Guilder, Morgiana, and Mars little is recorded. The 
brig Flirt, Captain Storer, is credited with taking 
the brig Commerce, from Martinique for Halifax, 
laden with rum and molasses, but the prize was par- 
tially dismantled, and so badly injured in other re- 
spects that she was destroyed. The Galloway on her 
passage to Nantes, April, 1814, captured and sent 
into that port the brig Fanny, of London, laden 
with fish. The sloop Hero, Captain T. Waterman, 
had an unusual experience with one of her prizes. 
On her passage to France she took the schooner 
Victoria, which was manned and ordered to an 
American port. Soon after parting company with 
the Hero, the Victoria was recaptured by a British 
war vessel, and the American prize crew, with the 
exception of one man, was taken aboard the man- 
of-war and their places taken by Englishmen. The 
one American left in the Victoria, however, per- 
suaded the new prize crew to run their vessel into 
an American port. This was done as soon as they 
had lost sight of the war ship, and the Victoria ar- 
rived at Charleston. The Hero, in 1814, captured the 
schooner Robert Hartwell, from Antigua for Bermuda, 


with a cargo valued at twenty thousand dollars, 
which was sent into Newberne; the schooner Fun- 
chall, sent into the same port; and two vessels which 
were ransomed. A cutter named Hero was manned 
by volunteers in Stonington, Connecticut, and cap- 
tured the king's schooner Fox, a tender to a ship of 
the line. 

The Henry Guilder was fortunate in capturing, in 
1814, the schooner Toung Farmer, from La Guayra, 
laden with indigo worth forty thousand dollars. The 
prize arrived in New York. The Mars was equally 
fortunate in capturing the schooner Susan and Eliza, 
of Bermuda, and sending her into Wilmington, with 
her cargo of one hundred and twenty thousand 
pounds of coffee. In the same cruise the Mars sent 
into Charleston the brig Superb, with a cargo of salt. 
About February, 1814, this privateer was chased 
ashore on Rockaway Beach by a British 74-gun ship 
of the line and a frigate. Forty of the Americans 
escaped with sixteen thousand dollars in specie, and 
thirty were captured by the enemy, while forty-three 
prisoners were recaptured. In this cruise the Mars 
had been chased eleven times. Late in the war the 
Morgiana, Captain G. Fellows, took the schooner 
Sultan and the ship City of Limerick, the latter with 
a very valuable cargo of general merchandise. The 
Sultan was sent into Wilmington, and the City of 
Limerick was ordered into port after the most desir- 
able portion of her cargo had been transferred to 
the Morgiana. The Morgiana returned to port with 
two hundred and fifty thousand dollars' worth of 

More distinguished than these privateers were 
the 18-gun brig Holkar and the 10-gun brig Herald. 
The former, commanded by Captain T. Kowland, 
took the ship Aurora, mounting twelve guns, and with 
a cargo of drygoods worth three hundred thousand 
dollars, which arrived in Newport. In the same 
cruise the Holkar took the 10-gun brig Emu, manned 

YORK PRIVATEERS. 1813-1814. 

by twenty-five men, from Portsmouth for Botany 
Bay. The Emu had on board forty-nine women con- 
victs. These were landed on the island of St. Vin- 
cent, one of the Cape de Verdes, with provisions 
enough for four months. It is recorded that the Emu 
"was a king's ship carrying twelve guns, and was 
provided with a ' patent defense ' surmounting her 
bulwarks, composed of spring bayonets, to prevent 
boarding. She had a great quantity of ammunition 
on board. She was commanded by an arrogant lieu- 
tenant of the British navy, who could not persuade 
his crew to fight the Yankees." Four other prizes 
taken by the Holkar were the schooner Richard, 
which was sent into Savannah; a 14-gun brig, sent 
into New York; and two trading vessels. 

While in Long Island Sound, endeavoring to 
gain her port, the Holkar was chased ashore near 
New London by the British frigate Orpheus. This 
cruiser had been very active in harassing our ves- 
sels, having taken a number and compelling others 
to beach. After running his vessels ashore, Captain 
Eowland managed to get all his cargo on land, to- 
gether with his twenty-five prisoners. Observing 
that the Orpheus was sending her boats to attack 
him, Captain Eowland prepared for a desperate de- 
fense and succeeded in repelling the enemy. It is 
said that, after the fight, fifteen bodies of the Eng- 
lishmen were washed ashore, among their killed 
being Captain Collins, of the marines. Realizing 
that he could not save his vessel, Captain Rowland 
escaped with his men, after which the Orpheus ran 
close in and soon destroyed the privateer. 

The Herald began her operations later in the war. 
She arrived in New York, December 26, 1813, and re- 
ported that on her passage from Charleston she had 
an action with an English schooner, but after ex- 
changing several broadsides they became separated 
by darkness. One of the most important prizes in 
the war was made by this privateer. In June or July, 


1814, she seized the ship Friendship, from London 
for Lisbon, which was sailing under Swedish colors. 
Her cargo was believed to be English, however, and 
as it was invoiced at one hundred thousand pounds 
she was sent into Wilmington. The Herald also took 
the schooner Ellen, from Belfast for Lisbon, laden 
with beef, pork, and lard, which was sent into Beau- 
fort, and a brig and schooner laden with fish, which 
were sent into Ocracoke Inlet. Another privateer 
called Herald, a 17-gun schooner commanded by Cap- 
tain J. Miller, was commissioned from New York. 
She was captured late in the war, after a chase of 
four hours by two British frigates. No prizes have 
been credited to her. 

The Invincible, the Jonquille, and the Marengo were 
privateers that did good service toward the close of 
the war. The first took a ship in ballast from Liver- 
pool for Antigua, and sent her into Wilmington; the 
brig Nimble, with a cargo of West India produce, sent 
into Teneriffe; the schooner Prince Regent, mounting 
ten guns, which was given up after her armament 
had been taken aboard the Invincible; the cutter 
Lyon, with dry goods and hardware, divested and re- 
leased; the brig Portsca, carrying eight guns; the 
brig Conway, of ten guns, with a cargo of drygoods, 
and ordered for the United States; the schooner 
Francis and Lucy, with fish, oil, and lumber, and con- 
verted into a cartel; the brig Margaretta, laden with 

The Jonquille, Captain E. Carman, in April, 1814, 
took the schooner Cobham, of Bermuda, and sent her 
into Wilmington; a brig laden with fish, which was 
sent into port; the schooner St. John's, with coffee, 
which was ransomed; a schooner, which was turned 
into a cartel; and the sloop Trinidad, laden with 
coffee, hides, and logwood, which was burned. The 
Jonquille arrived at Beaufort in 1815, nine days from 
Port-au-Prince, with a full cargo. 

The Marengo, Captain J. Eedois, was one of the 

70RK PBIVATEEfiS. 1818-1814. 

most successful privateers that sailed from New 
York, taking in all eight merchantmen, seven of 
which arrived in port and one was burned at sea. 

The 16-gun privateer Orders in Council, Captain 
J. Howard, having a complement of one hundred and 
twenty men, captured the brig Lady Harriot, with 
a cargo of wine, from Cadiz, and sent her into New 
York, and a brig laden with salt, which she cut out 
of Turk's Island. On her second cruise this priva- 
teer, then on her way to Bordeaux, fell in with the 
king's cutter Wellington, armed with twelve long 12- 
pounders and manned by fifty-seven men. An action 
began within musket shot, and was maintained with 
considerable energy for one hour and twenty-two 
minutes, when the cutter was compelled to sheer off. 
The crew of the privateer at this time had been 
reduced by sickness to fifteen men ready for duty. A 
few days after her encounter with the Wellington, the 
Orders in Council was chased, January 1, 1813, by 
three English privateers, and in his efforts to get 
away from them Captain Howard ran under the guns 
of the British 74-gun line of battle ship Surveillant, 
and was compelled to surrender. In all this priva- 
teer had made four prizes. 

Several prizes of value were made by the Rosa- 
mond, Captain J. Campan, and the Shark, Captain E. 
d'Elville. The first took the brig Roebuck, with a full 
cargo of rum, from Grenada for Jersey, which was 
sent into Norfolk. The Roebuck was a splendid ves- 
sel, formerly belonging to the United States, but 
was captured by the Orders in Council. The Rosa- 
mond also took the schooner Adela, with a cargo of 
sugar, from Martinique, sailing under Spanish colors, 
which was sent into New York; and the schooner 
Antelope, which was sent into Charleston. The Shark, 
in October, 1814, took the schooner Mary, with three 
thousand pounds worth of drygoods, from Jamaica 
for San Domingo, which was sent into New Orleans; 
and five vessels off the coast of Portugal, three of 

1813-1814 FATE OP THE TEAZER. 445 

which were released and two were ordered to the 
United States. 

The Young Eagle at the outset of her career had 
a spirited engagement with two heavily armed mer- 
chantmen, the ship Grenada and the schooner Shad- 
dock, which were attacked in company. The Grenada 
was a ship of seven hundred tons, mounted eleven, 
guns, and had a crew of thirty men. She was from 
Guadeloupe bound for London, with a cargo consist- 
ing principally of seven hundred hogsheads of sugar 
and large quantities of cotton and coffee. The Shad- 
dock was bound for Liverpool from Antigua, with a 
cargo of molasses. The 'Young Eagle had only one 
gun, the unfailing long torn, and was manned by 
forty-two men. The action lasted one hour and a half 
when both merchantmen were captured. The master 
of the Shaddock was killed and two of his men were 
wounded. The Grenada had three of her people in- 
jured, but no one in the Young Eagle was hurt. The 
Grenada was sent into Charleston and the Shaddock 
into New York. 

The Viper, Captain D. Dithurbide, sailed from 
Charleston, February 24, 1813, and after a cruise 
arrived at New Bedford, March 4th. In this time 
she took three valuable vessels, which realized, on 
sale, one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The 
privateer Yorktown, Captain T. W. Story, got to sea 
early in the war, and by May 30, 1813, she had made 
eleven prizes. On July 17th of this year she was 
captured by an English squadron and sent into 

The peculiar dangers to which the privateersman 
was exposed are well illustrated in the career of the 
Teaser, of New York. This craft, under the command 
of Captain F. Johnson, got to sea early in the War of 
1812, and among her first prizes were the 10-gun 
packet Ann, which was sent into Portland, and the 
schooner Greyhound. A prize crew was thrown 
aboard the latter, with orders to make for the most 

YOKE PEIVATBEES. 1813-1813. 

available American port. In carrying out these in- 
structions the prize master of the Greyhound was 
chased and overtaken by the 74-gun ship of the line 
La Hague, Captain Capel. Realizing that resistance 
was hopeless, the Yankee prize master resorted to 
a ruse. He had preserved the original English papers 
of the Greyhound, and when the boarding officer came 
these documents were shown to him, with the state- 
ment that the Greyhound was an English vessel and 
had a British crew aboard. As all the Americans 
answered to the names on the shipping papers, the 
English officer departed and the Greyhound gained 
port in safety. 

After taking a few more prizes the Teaser, in 
December, 1812, was captured by the 74-gun ship of 
the line San Domingo and was burned, the crew being 
released on their promise not to serve against Great 
Britain again in this war until regularly exchanged. 
It seems that Johnson, without waiting to be thus ex- 
changed, on his return to the United States entered 
another privateer, which was called Young Teaser, 
as her first officer, her commander being W. B. 
Dobson. Dobson was an ideal privateersman. In 
June, 1813, he appeared off Halifax, where he was 
chased by the British cruiser Sir John SherbroJce. Un- 
fortunately for the Americans they were between 
the enemy and the harbor, so that it was impossible 
for them to escape seaward. Taking in the situa- 
tion at a glance, Dobson pretended to be an Eng- 
lish prize master in possession of an American 
schooner. Hoisting the British flag over American 
colors, he boldly stood into Halifax harbor. The Sir 
John Sherlroke, to make sure that there was no de- 
ception, followed the American until close under 
the guns of the fort. The garrison, also supposing 
that the schooner was a British prize, did not fire, 
and the commander of the cruiser, satisfied as to 
the Toung Teaser's pretended character, put to sea 
again, and in a few hours was out of sight. Un- 


der cover of night the Young Teazer also got to sea 
in safety. 

Not at all abashed by his narrow escape, Dobson 
had the audacity, two days after his clever ruse, 
to send into Halifax a proclamation " declaring all 
Halifax in a state of blockade," and followed this 
" piece of audacious impudence " with a challenge 
to Captain Capel to fight the line of battle ship La 
Hague " at any time and place " the British com- 
mander might select. In this instance Captain Capel 
accepted the challenge quicker than the Yankee had 
anticipated, for on July 13th that ship unexpectedly 
hove in sight, and again the Young Teaser was com- 
pelled to run into Halifax harbor. This time, of 
course, the garrison in the fort knew the schooner, 
and Dobson took care to keep beyond the reach of 
their shot. He ran into a small bay near Halifax 
where the water was too shoal for La Hague to fol- 
low, but Captain Capel manned his boats and sent 
one hundred and thirty men against the privateer. 

By some means, not fully explained, Dobson man- 
aged to get to sea again, with La Hague close after 
him. After a hard run of eighteen hours Dobson 
realized that he was in such danger of capture that 
he called his officers in consultation. Escape was 
impossible, for the enemy's shots were whistling by 
their ears viciously, and it was only a question of a 
few minutes when broadsides would be crashing 
into them. While the American officers were in con- 
sultation, Johnson, who knew that, if captured and 
recognized, he would be promptly hanged at the 
yardarm for dishonoring his parole, quietly slipped 
away from the group, and, seizing a live coal, disap- 
peared in the cabin. 1 One of the seamen called 
Dobson's attention to the strange action of his first 
officer, but before anything could be done the maga- 

1 Private letter from Portland, dated July 24, 1813, to agent of the 
Young Teazer, in New York. 


zme was ignited and the ship was blown to pieces. 
Thirty of her complement of thirty-seven people 
were killed. "Had he [Johnson] blown his own 
brains out," says a contemporary newspaper, "or 
tied a gun around his neck and flung himself over- 
board, very few would have mourned, and no one 
would have found fault, as by all accounts he was 
not the most amiable man living. Indeed, he must 
have been possessed of the disposition of the devil 
to plunge such a number of his friends into eternity 
who had parents, wives, and children to mourn their 
untimely fate and to suffer for want of protection 
and assistance." 

Dobson was one of the survivors, and it was 
scarcely two months after the disaster to the Young 
Teaser that he was in a ship that still insisted on 
having the word " Teazer " in her name this time 
it was Young Teazels Ghost. The Young Teaser's Ghost 
had been the British privateer Liverpool Packet. This 
craft had been long cruising off the New England 
coast, and had occasioned much damage to our com- 
merce. Her presence in these waters was especially 
obnoxious to the people of Salem, as the English- 
man made it a point to station himself off that port, 
where he captured several inward and outward 
bound ships. His presence was the more exasperat- 
ing, in view of the great number of American priva- 
teers that came from Salem, which unfortunately 
at that time were far away and could not be called 
upon to chastise the insolent stranger. 

Finally, the indignation of the Salem folk became 
so great that on the morning of November 12, 1812, 
Captain John Upton declared that he would go out 
in the merchant schooner Helen if sixty-nine men 
would go with him and give battle to the Britisher. 
The owners of the Helen, the Messrs. J. J. Knapp and 
White, patriotically loaned the craft for the occa- 
sion. The sixty-nine men were rapidly secured, and, 
forming a procession, " preceded by the American 

1813. TRAITORS. 449 

flag, and by James McCarthy with his drum and by 
Henry Hubon with his fife, they marched through 
the streets of Salem, led by Captain James Fair- 
child." That same night, at nine o'clock, the Helen, 
with a few cannon hastily thrown aboard and with 
a small supply of ammunition, was towed out of the 
harbor, and early on the following morning got 
under way. Unfortunately for the warlike aspira- 
tions of these volunteer sea warriors the Liverpool 
Packet had sailed the day before for St. John's, 
thereby frustrating the object of the enterprise. 
This, however, did not prevent the valiant seventy 
from returning to port with all the honors of war. 

It is not unlikely that the people in the privateer 
had been warned of the proposed attack by some of 
their allies on shore. It is well known that the Eng- 
lish had their " informers " in most of the Ameri- 
can seaports. One Samuel Yorke, who acted as 
pilot of the Liverpool Packet while on these coasts, 
was taken in custody on reaching shore and charged 
with high treason. He said in his defense, " It was 
not Englishmen, but his own countrymen who had 
brought him to this," and stated that the Liverpool 
Packet, " as well as the Sir John Sherlroke, belonged 
in the headquarters of good principles [meaning that 
they were owned by citizens of the United States], 
and that several boats were employed in going 
from Boston to Liverpool and Halifax to give in- 
formation." Shortly after this the Liverpool Packet 
was captured and taken into the American service 
under the name of Young Teazer's Ghost. She was not 
very successful, however, and Dobson had to seek 
another command. 



THERE was one class of vessels employed by the 
British Government in this war that furnished a 
valuable source of revenue to the owners of Ameri- 
can privateers. This was the packet class. These 
vessels were selected or built especially with a view 
to speed, and were employed by the enemy in carry- 
ing important dispatches, but more frequently in 
transporting specie. As a rule, they carried formida- 
ble armaments and were strongly manned, so that, 
if attacked, they were in a condition to make a good 
fight. But as the main object was to reach their 
destination with all possible speed, they seldom took 
the initiative in an action, and when chased crowded 
on all sail to escape, at the same time using their 
stern guns to injure the enemy's sails and rigging 
rather than their hulls. If evidence were needed 
to further demonstrate the superiority of the Ameri- 
can-built craft over that of the British at this 
period, it will be found in the fact that a large num- 
ber of these British Government packets were cap- 
tured by American private armed vessels; and, if 
evidence is needed to show that our privateersmen 
were as brave as they were skillful in handling their 
ships, it will be had in the fact that these packets 
were taken usually only after the most desperate 

One of the first vessels of this class taken from 
the British by American privateers was the packet 



Townsend, from Falmouth for Barbadoes. She was 
captured by the Tom, of Baltimore. Soon after war 
was declared the Torn, Captain T. Wilson, then car- 
rying fourteen guns and one hundred and forty men, 
got to sea, and about July 26, 1812, fell in with the 
heavily armed British merchantman Braganza, from 
Port-au-Prince for London, and having on board four 
hundred thousand pounds of coffee, besides logwood. 
The Braganza, was a ship of four hundred tons and 
carried twelve guns. As soon as he sighted this sail 
Captain Wilson gave chase, and when within gun- 
shot opened a spirited fire, to which the Englishmen 
responded with every gun that would bear. After a 
running fight lasting fifty-five minutes the Braganza 
was surrendered and sent into Baltimore, accom- 
panied by the Tom. 

Befitting in this port the Tom again put to sea, the 
following notice of her departure appearing in Nile's 
Begister: "The pilot-boat built schooner Tom sailed 
on Sunday last [August 2, 1812] on a cruise. Her 
burthen is two hundred and eighty-seven tons; she 
carried sixteen guns and a brave crew of one hundred 
and forty men, admirably prepared for action. Thus 
she is able to compete with the smaller national ves- 
sels of the enemy, and, we trust, to escape from the 
larger. The canvas she spreads is truly astonishing." 

Captain Wilson had not been on blue water long 
when he fell in with the packet Townsend, the latter 
being armed with nine guns and carrying twenty- 
eight men and passengers. True to her character as 
a " running ship," the Townsend, on making out the 
American, spread all sail in an effort to escape, but 
the speedy Tom was quickly in chase, and after a 
hard run came within gunshot, when a severe strug- 
gle began. The Englishmen fought heroically, and did 
not yield to the superior armament of the Americans 
until their commander and four seamen had been 
killed and a number wounded. The privateer sus- 
tained only a trifling injury in her hull and rigging, 


while only two of her people were hurt. Taking out 
most of the valuables in the packet, Captain Wilson 
released the ship on the payment of six thousand dol- 
lars. At the height of the action, when the British 
saw that they must surrender, they threw overboard 
all the mail bags, but as they were not properly 
shotted they floated, and afterward were picked up 
by the privateer schooner Bona, Captain J. Dameron, 
of Baltimore, and brought into port. On April 27, 
1813, the Tom was captured by the British cruiser 
Lyra, at which time the privateer's armament had 
been reduced to six guns and her complement to 
thirty-six men and boys. In her entire career in this 
war the Tom took two ships and one brig. 

Another British packet ship taken by the Ameri- 
cans in the autumn of 1812 was the brig Burchall, 
having on board an English commissary and his 
wife. This vessel was taken by the 5-gun schooner 
Highflyer, Captain J. Grant, of Baltimore. The High- 
flyer was one of the first private armed craft to get 
to sea from Baltimore in this war. On July 21, 1812, 
she took the British merchantman Jamaica, Captain 
Wells, a ship of seven guns and twenty-one men, and 
on the following day she captured the ship Mary 
Ann, Captain Miller, carrying twelve guns and eight- 
een men. These vessels were attacked in company, 
the Jamaica being carried by boarding and the Mary 
Ann surrendering after Captain Grant had suc- 
ceeded in getting alongside. The action with the 
Jamaica lasted forty minutes, in which time the 
Americans had two men wounded. On August 26th 
the Highflyer sent into Baltimore the schooner Har- 
riot, from New Providence for Havana, mounting 
four guns. She was in ballast, but had on board sev- 
eral thousand dollars in specie. 

It was in this cruise that the Highflyer fell in with 
the Burcliall, running from Barbadoes to Demerara, 
and captured her. This privateer was singularly 
fortunate in securing British officials of high rank; 


for, besides seizing a number of the enemy's dro- 
ghers, or coasting vessels sailing in the West Indies, 
she captured another commissary and seventy-two 
men, who were sent into Demerara under a flag of 
truce. Governor Carmichael wrote a letter to Cap- 
tain Grant highly complimenting the latter for his 
courtesy in thus accommodating his prisoners. In 
February, 1813, the Highflyer was captured by the 
74-gun ship of the line Poictiers, the privateer having 
taken in all eight British vessels. On securing the 
Highflyer the British converted her into a tender, in 
charge of a lieutenant and seventy-two men. On the 
night of May 24, 1813, the American privateer Roger, 
Captain E. Quarles, of fourteen guns and one hundred 
and twenty men, slipped past the blockading squad- 
ron at Hampton Eoads. Several days before this 
the Highflyer, under her new flag, had captured the 
"lookout boat" Betsey, Captain Smith. This boat 
had been very useful to the Americans in eluding 
the British blockading ships and getting to sea, so 
as to give warning and information to our return- 
ing privateers. The Highflyer's people promptly 
burned the Betsey, and took her men aboard their 

At nine o'clock in the evening the Roger got to 
sea, and soon fell in with the Highflyer. The British 
hailed the privateer, and on receiving no answer 
hailed again and threatened to fire. To this the 
Americans responded with a broadside, and immedi- 
ately the two vessels became engaged in a close and 
heavy cannonade, which lasted until 11.30 P. M., when 
the Highflyer sheered off. The action had been at 
such close quarters that words of command in each 
ship could be distinctly heard by the opponents. 
In the heat of the battle two of the men taken from 
the Betsey managed to get into a boat and made 
their escape to land. On the following day the Brit- 
ish gave Captain Smith and the remaining crew of 
the Betsey a boat, in which they reached Norfolk. 


Afterward it was learned that the enemy had suf- 
fered severely in this fight, and had the Roger been 
able to keep alongside the Highflyer the latter un- 
doubtedly would soon have been compelled to sur- 
render. As it was, the British lieutenant, the cook, 
and four men were killed, while a midshipman and 
nine seamen were wounded. 1 The Roger was one of 
the most successful private armed craft sailing out 
of Norfolk, taking in all seven vessels. One of her 
prizes was the English Government packet Windsor 
Castle, armed with ten guns and having on board 
thirty-two seamen and nine passengers. The Roger 
was at sea at the close of the war. On September 
23, 1813, nearly four months after her encounter with 
the Roger, the Highflyer, then under the command 
of Lieutenant George Hutchinson, was captured 
through a clever stratagem by the United States 
44-gun frigate President, Captain John Eodgers. 2 

One of the most obstinately contested actions 
between an American privateer and a British Gov- 
ernment packet occurred in 1813. The English 400- 
ton packet ship Morgiana, Captain Cunningham, 
mounting eighteen guns 9-pounders and manned 
by fifty men, was attacked in September of this 
year by the privateer Saratoga, Captain Charles W. 
Wooster. The latter had left port with sixteen guns, 
but shortly before meeting the packet she had been 
chased by a frigate, and had been compelled to throw 
overboard twelve of her guns. The Morgiana did 
not surrender until she had two of her men killed 
and five wounded, among the latter being her com- 
mander, who was badly hurt. The Americans had 
three men killed and seven wounded. In her entire 
career in this war the Saratoga took twenty-two Brit- 
ish vessels. In February, 1813, she took, while off 
Caracas, a brig from England laden with drygoods. 

1 Hampton Compiler. 

* See Maclay's History of the United States Navy, vol. i, p. 522. 


Placing a prize crew aboard, Captain Wooster or- 
dered her to the United States, but being short of 
water the prize master put into Santa Marta, to 
leeward of La Guayra, where the vessel and cargo 
were seized by the Spanish officials and sold to the 
account of their Government. The prize crew was 
placed in irons and sent to Havana, where they were 
compelled to work on the arsenal under the most 
cruel taskmasters. They were poorly fed, and al- 
lowed to go barefooted and almost naked. Several 
of the men were severely flogged because they re- 
fused to enter a Spanish man-of-war. 

About a month after the action between the 
Saratoga and Morgiana, the armed schooner Globe, 
Captain Eichard Moon, of Baltimore, had a desper- 
ate engagement with two British packet ships. Ear- 
lier in the war Captain Moon had commanded the 
1-gun schooner Sarah Ann, manned by fifty men. The 
Sarah Ann attacked a British merchantman of ten 
guns, which resisted until four of her people were 
wounded. The prize was sent into New Providence, 
October, 1812. At that port six of the Americans 
were claimed as British subjects, and were sent to 
Jamaica. On January 27, 1814, the Globe arrived at 
Wilmington, North Carolina, and reported an action 
with two British packet ships. It occurred Novem- 
ber 3, 1813, while the American privateer was cruis- 
ing in the vicinity of Madeira. Two days before 
this Captain Moon discovered a sail leeward, and 
immediately bore away to ascertain her character. 
She proved to be a large man-of-war brig, and after 
exchanging a few shots Captain Moon hauled off. 
Just before she got out of reach, however, the Globe 
received a 9-pound shot under her quarter, very near 
the water line, which caused a dangerous leak. 

Shaking herself clear of the man-of-war, the Globe 
repaired damages and appeared off the port of Pun- 
chal, where two brigs were discovered backing and 
filling away as if about to leave the Roads. Evi- 


dently they observed the approach of the privateer, 
and were unwilling to leave port until she withdrew. 
Captain Moon so far accommodated them as to make 
a feint at sailing southward. This was sufficient 
encouragement to induce the brigs to venture out, 
and Captain Moon, retracing his course shortly after 
he had run the port out of sight, had the satisfaction 
of coming upon the brigs just as they were clearing 
land. He made all sail in chase, but as it soon came 
on dark and squally he lost sight of them. He con- 
tinued the chase on a blind course, under easy sail, 
all that night, and at daylight, November 3d, he saw 
the brigs bearing away from him to the southwest, 
some six or eight miles distant. Carrying a press of 
sail for five hours and a half, the Globe came within 
gunshot of the largest brig, which opened a spirited 
fire from her stern chasers. The privateer responded 
with her chase guns, but did not for a moment 
slacken her speed, as the Americans desired to get 
at close quarters immediately. 

In this manner a running fight was maintained 
between the two vessels, the American rapidly gain- 
ing, until half past twelve, when the Globe was fairly 
alongside and began nudging elbows with the chase. 
The word was then passed along to board, but un- 
fortunately the privateer fell off a little at that mo- 
ment, so that only the first and second officers and 
three seamen of the Globe gained the enemy's deck. 
Cut off from retreat, these men made a heroic fight, 
but they were set upon by the entire English crew 
and were soon killed. The first officer's name was 
John Harrison and that of the second was John 
Smith, the names of the seamen being Joshua 
Brown, Eichard Blair, and James Thelis. 

At this critical period of the fight the second 
English brig bore up, and passing across the Globe's 
bow gave her a terrible raking fire, which killed or 
wounded a number of the privateer's people, besides 
greatly injuring her sails and rigging. This broad- 


side, added to the injuries the privateer already had 
received, for some time rendered her quite unman- 
ageable. Captain Moon, however, kept his guns 
going, and made every effort to repair his rigging, 
hoping to renew the engagement under more favor- 
able circumstances. 

Again getting alongside the first brig, he opened 
a heavy cannon and musketry fire, so that at half 
past three o'clock she surrendered. All this time 
the Globe had paid little or no attention to the sec- 
ond brig, which had been firing shot after shot at 
close range into the privateer with impunity and 
doing great damage. As the first brig had sur- 
rendered, Captain Moon was now able to turn his 
undivided attention upon the other vessel, and this 
he did with all the zest of long-pent vengeance. The 
Globe was soon got under steerageway, and, running 
close under the enemy's quarter, the Americans 
poured in a destructive fire until half past four, 
when Captain Moon found that his own vessel was 
in a critical condition. 

Seven shot had taken effect between wind and 
water, which caused her to take in so much water as 
to endanger the safety of all. Under these circum- 
stances Captain Moon decided to return to the first 
brig and take possession of her, as the second brig 
seemed to be undesirous of continuing the battle. 
When the Globe approached the first brig, however, 
the Americans were surprised to see her rehoist her 
colors and fire a broadside. Both brigs then set 
upon the privateer with renewed energy, so that 
Captain Moon was compelled to haul off to prevent 
his vessel from sinking. Fortunately the enemy did 
not seem desirous of following up their advantage, 
and finding that the privateer was unable to con- 
tinue the chase they made sail and gradually disap- 
peared below the horizon. 

The condition of the Globe was critical in the ex- 
treme; for, besides the great quantities of water she 


was taking in, the greater part of her standing and 
running rigging were shot away, and not a sail was 
left that had not been riddled with shot. A large 
number of her officers and men also had been killed 
or wounded. For some hours after this battle the 
survivors bent all their energies to keeping their 
craft afloat and mending the rigging. Having done 
this, the schooner slowly made her way to the Grand 
Canary Island for permanent repairs. 

Down to this time Captain Moon was ignorant 
of the names, force, or character of his antagonists, 
excepting that during the time he was chasing the 
largest brig he observed that her people were throw- 
ing various articles overboard, some of which floated, 
and when the Globe came up to them they were seen 
to be mail bags. From this circumstance he was 
led to believe that they were packet vessels. This 
belief was confirmed when he arrived at the Canary 
Islands, where he learned, via Santa Cruz, Teneriffe, 
that a British packet brig carrying eighteen guns 
and another mounting fourteen had recently arrived 
at that place. They reported that a few days before 
they had. a severe engagement with an American 
privateer and succeeded in beating her off, but only 
after great losses to themselves, having twenty- 
seven men killed or wounded, besides suffering seri- 
ous injuries in their hulls and rigging. The Globe, 
besides those already mentioned, had Seamen Oliver, 
Samuel D. Smith, and Sandy Forbes killed, making 
eight in all killed, and the following men wounded: 
Captain Moon, Prize-Masters Noah Allen and John 
Frinck; Seamen Asa Hart, Ab. Kinhart, Fortune, 
Job E. Wheeler, P. Short, F. Statt, T. Jifford, J. 
Arnold, J. Beatly, John Wilson, John Mitchell, and 
Daniel Milton. On this cruise the Globe carried her 
long torn probably an 18- or 24-pounder and eight 
12-pounder carronades. Her complement of offi- 
cers, seamen, and marines numbered ninety. After 
the action Captain Moon found a double-headed shot 


sticking in the side of his ship which weighed twelve 
pounds. 1 

So many British vessels of this class were taken 
by American cruisers and privateers in the early 
part of the war, and so serious were the losses and 
inconveniences resulting from these captures, that 
extraordinary precautions were taken to protect the 
packet ships. Their time of sailing was purposely 
made irregular, and, so far as possible, the exact 
date was kept secret. In some cases war ships ac- 
companied the packet, while, finally, ships of the line 
and heavy frigates were called upon to perform this 
service. But even these extreme measures did not 
prevent our enterprising privateers from continuing 
their mischievous work of capturing this class of 

In September, 1814, the privateer Harpy, Captain 
William Nichols, of Baltimore, fell in with the Brit- 
ish packet Princess Elizabeth and compelled her to 
surrender. The English had three men killed and 
several wounded, while the Americans had one man 
killed. The packet was armed with eight 12-pound- 
ers and two long brass 9-pounders and was manned 
by a crew of thirty-eight men. The Harpy carried 
fourteen heavy guns and about one hundred men. 
The prize had on board as passengers the Turkish 
ambassador to England, an English army officer, 
an aide to a British general, and the second lieuten- 
ant of a 74-gun ship of the line. Taking out of the 
packet ten thousand dollars in specie, five pipes of 
Madeira wine, the two brass 9-pounders, and two of 
the 12-pounders, Captain Nichols threw overboard 
the remaining guns, and allowed the Princess Eliza- 
letJi to proceed on her voyage, after paying a ransom 
of two thousand dollars. 

In the following month the Harpy sailed from 
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and returned to that 

1 For other services of the Globe in this war, see pp. 480-433. 


place, after a cruise of only twenty days, with sixty 
prisoners, having captured the British transports 
Budges and Amazon, from London for Halifax, the 
first vessel carrying six guns and the second six 
guns with eighteen men. Both craft were laden 
with provisions for the British army in America, 
the Budges having a cargo of rum, brandy, beef, pork, 
flour, and bread. They belonged to a fleet that had 
sailed from Portsmouth, England. Among the pris- 
oners were two majors and several other officers. It 
was estimated that the value of the prizes taken by 
the Harpy in this cruise was at least half a million 
dollars. The last cruise made by the Harpy in 
this war was even more remarkable. She remained 
at sea eighty-five days, arriving at Salem, April, 1815, 
with her hold crowded with valuable articles cap- 
tured in the Bay of Biscay and on the coasts of Eng- 
land, Portugal, and Spain. The following list will 
show the variety and exciting nature of her adven- 
tures: "One hundred and eighty-eight boxes and 
trunks, and one hundred and sixteen hogsheads and 
casks of drygoods, jewelry, plate, women's rich 
dresses, navy trimmings, fine clothing, etc. Three 
hundred and thirty boxes fresh Malaga raisins, sixty- 
six frails fresh Turkey figs, one hundred and fifty- 
eight pieces of British manufactured goods, twenty- 
nine bolts of canvas, a quantity of cordage, ten pipes 
of sherry wine, three barrels of gunpowder, carron- 
ades, muskets, pistols, cutlasses, sails, signal flags, 
lamps and paint oil, white and patent sheet lead, 
nautical instruments, cut and other glass, medicines, 
and upward of one hundred thousand pounds sterling 
in British treasury notes and bills of exchange." 

The following testimonial was written by one of 
Captain Nichols' prisoners: "Captain William Drys- 
dale, late of the ship William and Alfred, captured 
January 2, 1815, by the brig Harpy, returns his grate- 
ful acknowledgment to William Nichols, Esq., com- 
mander of the said brig, and all his officers for their 


great civility, indulgent lenity, and humane usage 
while on board, and generously delivering up all his 
private property. And should, at any future time, 
Captain Nichols or any of his officers come to Lon- 
don, Captain Drysdale will be happy to see them at 
his house, Stepney Green, near London. Given under 
my hand, on board the Harpy at sea, this day, Janu- 
ary 6, 1815." 

This testimonial was supplemented as follows: 
" We, the undersigned, feeling congenial sentiments 
with Captain Drysdale toward Captain Nichols, Lieu- 
tenant Place, and the officers on board the Harpy, 
and desirous that such humanity and goodness may 
be made public, as well in the United States as in 
England, declare that our treatment is worthy of 
every praise and encomium, and that all our private 
property has been held sacred to us and a cartel 
fitted for us as early as circumstances would permit. 
George Harrison, W. Newell, J. W. Hall, Andrew 
McCarthy, late masters of vessels taken by the 

The William and Alfred was laden with drygoods 
and plantation utensils, and was bound for Antigua. 
Captain Nichols divested her of her drygoods, and, 
placing her in charge of a prize crew, ordered her 
to the United States. The ship Jane, from London 
for Antigua, was taken by the Harpy. She was 
laden with provisions for the Government. After 
taking out a portion of her cargo and destroying the 
remainder, Captain Nichols placed his prisoners in 
her, and ordered her to a British port as a cartel. An- 
other prize of the Harpy was the ship Garland, with 
a full cargo of rum and sugar. She arrived safely at 



A KEMARKABLE feature of the maritime War of 
1812-1815 was the number of instances in which our 
privateers gave and received blows from the regu- 
lar war ships of the British Government. Notable 
cases, such as the repulse of the English boats in 
Payal and the disastrous defeat of the Endymion's 
men in their attack on the Prince de Neuchatel, have 
been detailed in separate chapters, but those actions 
are far from completing the list. On September 8, 
1812, the American privateer Diligent, Captain Gras- 
sin, of Philadelphia, fell in with the British 10-gun 
cruiser Laura, Lieutenant Charles Newton Hunter. 
The Laura had taken three American merchantmen, 
and was in the act of seizing the fourth, when, at 
three o'clock in the afternoon, she was discovered 
by the Diligent. The Englishman carried ten 18- 
pounder carronades and two short 9-pounders, and 
had, according to their accounts, a complement of 
forty-one men. The Diligent was a schooner mount- 
ing ten short guns. 

As soon as the privateer was made out to be a 
ship of force, Lieutenant Hunter recalled his boat 
from the merchantman and made sail for the Dili- 
gent. From some men captured in his third prize the 
British commander had learned that the Diligent was 
in the vicinity and was informed as to her force. At 
3.55 P. M. the vessels had come within pistol shot, 
when the Laura opened with her guns, to which the 


Americans responded with a broadside. Five min- 
utes later the two vessels were fairly side by side, 
and, while the Americans endeavored to maneuver 
for a better position, the British attempted to frus- 
trate the effort by taking the wind out of their op- 
ponent's sails. At 4.30 P. M. the Diligent set her 
course and tried to tack, upon which the Laura put 
her helm down with the same object in view; but 
in the failing wind both vessels missed stays, and 
in paying off they swung round and engaged in 
a fierce yardarm-and-yardarm fight. At 4.45 P. M. 
the Laura, having had her peak halyards shot 
away, fell off the wind a little and forereached 
the privateer, grazing her port quarter. Soon 
afterward the Diligent, dropping astern and catch- 
ing the breeze, and being the best sailer of the 
two, drew up on the weather quarter of the 

Down to this time, owing to the fact that the 
men in both vessels were engaged in maneuvering, 
their fire had not been very effective. The privateer 
now seized the opportunity to take the wind out of 
the Laura's sails, and running her bowsprit over the 
starboard taffrail of the Englishman, with her jib 
boom between the topping lifts and through the 
mainsail, made fast. The Americans then used their 
small arms with great effect, and made attempts to 
board, which at 4.55 P. M. were successful, and soon 
they had complete possession of the vessel. The 
English loss was fifteen killed and severely wounded, 
including Lieutenant Hunter and Midshipman John 
C. Griffith. The Diligent had nine killed and ten 
wounded. " Captain Grassin," says an English his- 
torian, "carried his prize to Philadelphia, and be- 
haved to Lieutenant Hunter in the most honorable 
and attentive manner. Lieutenant Hunter was 
landed and taken to the hospital." Afterward the 
Laura was fitted out as a 12-gun privateer and re- 
named the Hebe. In April, 1813, while under the 


command of Captain J. Picarrere, she was captured 
by a British squadron. 

In February, 1813, the American privateer Lot- 
tery, Captain John Southcomb, left Baltimore for 
Bordeaux. While standing down the Chesapeake, 
at nine o'clock on the morning of the 8th, she 
was discovered by the British squadron at anchor 
in Lynnhaven Bay, which consisted of the 36-gun 
frigate Haidstone, Captain George Burdett; the 36- 
gun frigate Belvidera, Captain Richard Byron; the 
38-gun frigate Junon, Captain James Sanders; and 
the 38-gun frigate Statira, Captain Hassard Stack- 
pole. As soon as the privateer was made out 
the British sent nine boats, carrying two hundred 
men, with orders to attack the American. The 
boats were commanded by Lieutenant Kelly Nazer. 
Observing the approach of the enemy, Captain 
Southcomb made all sail to escape, for his vessel 
carried only six 12-pounder carronades and twenty- 
eight men. In a few hours, however, the Lottery 
was becalmed, and about one o'clock in the after- 
noon the British boats came within gunshot, when 
the Americans opened such a well-directed fire 
that the advance of the leading craft was checked. 
Waiting for the other boats, the British got together 
and made a dash at the privateer, and, notwithstand- 
ing a galling fire, succeeded in gaining her deck, 
where the few Americans were soon overpowered. 
Captain Southcomb made a superb defense, not sur- 
rendering until he was mortally hurt and eighteen 
of his twenty-eight men were killed or wounded. The 
British had one man killed and five wounded. 

Speaking of Southcomb's heroism, an English 
historian says: "This was a very gallant resistance 
on the part of the Lottery, and Captain Southcomb, 
until he died, was treated with the greatest atten- 
tion by Captain Byron, on board whose frigate he 
had been brought. Captain Byron then sent the 
body of the Lottery's late commander on shore, with 


every mark of respect due to the memory of a brave 
officer, and he afterward received a letter of thanks 
from Captain Charles Stewart, of the American frig- 
ate Constellation, at anchor in James River lead- 
ing to Norfolk, watching an opportunity to put to 
sea." The Lottery measured two hundred and twen- 
ty-five tons, and although carrying only six guns 
was pierced for sixteen. She was taken into the 
British navy under the name Canso. 

In the following April, 1813, four American priva- 
teers, one of them being the famous Dolphin, of Balti- 
more, were "caught on land" by a British blockading 
squadron. The Dolphin, Captain W. S. Stafford, had 
put to sea early in the war, and made directly for the 
coasts of Portugal and Spain. Cruising some time 
off Cape St. Vincent, the scene of some of England's 
greatest naval battles, with no success, Captain 
Stafford had nearly made up his mind to change his 
cruising ground, when, on February 25, 1813, while 
in sight of the Cape, a sail was descried from the 
Dolphin's masthead and chase was given to it. Soon 
afterward another sail, smaller and apparently a 
consort, was reported. The speedy privateer quick- 
ly overhauled the strangers, which were seen to be 
heavily armed merchantmen, and a severe action 
took place. In a short time both vessels were sur- 
rendered, the larger one proving to be the ship Hebe 
(by some accounts the John Hamilton), carrying six- 
teen guns and twenty-five men, and the smaller ves- 
sel, the brig Three Brothers, with ten guns and twen- 
ty-five men. Captain W. A. Brigham, of the Hele, 
was badly wounded early in the action by a musket 
shot, and soon afterward he was severely burned by 
an explosion of powder. The Dolphin carried ten 
guns and a crew of sixty men, of whom only four 
were hurt. 

Captain Stafford placed prize crews in these ves- 
sels, with orders to make for the United States. The 
Hele was recaptured, but the Three Brothers reached 


New York. Both vessels were homeward bound 
from Malta, and were laden with valuable cargoes. 
Captain Brigham expressed much surprise at meet- 
ing an American war craft in that part of the world, 

and said: " I did not expect to find a d d Yankee 

privateer in that place." But Stafford assured him 
that similar captures might soon be made in the 
Thames. The British officers, while aboard the Dol- 
phin, were handsomely treated, and on her arrival in 
Baltimore, February 15th, Brigham published the 
following " card ": " W. A. Brigham, lately captured 
in the British merchant ship Hebe, lately under his 
command, by the United States privateer Dolphin, 
Captain W. S. Stafford, after a severe contest, begs 
to make public and gratefully acknowledges the 
sense he has of the very kind and humane treat- 
ment he and his crew experienced on board the 
Dolphin during the passage to this port. All wear- 
ing apparel and private property were given up to 
the prisoners and the wounded (eight in number) 
most diligently and tenderly attended. W. A. 
Brigham being badly wounded, experienced a very 
great share of this attention from Dr. Chidester, the 
surgeon, which, together with the tender sympathy 
of goodness of Captain Stafford, added much to his 
recovery and happiness. Should the fortune of war 
ever throw Captain Stafford or any of his crew into 
the hands of the British it is sincerely hoped he will 
meet a similar treatment. Baltimore, February 16, 
1813." This generous wish of Captain Brigham was 
soon to be granted. 

On April 3, 1813, Sir John Warren, having his flag 
aboard the 74-gun ship of the line San Domingo, Cap- 
tain Charles Gill, with the Marlborough, bearing 
Bear -Admiral Cockburn's flag, Captain Charles 
Bayne Hodgson Boss, accompanied by the frigates 
Maidstone and Statira and the brig-sloops Fantome 
and Mohawk, appeared off the mouth of the Rappa- 
hannock, where four American privateers happened 


to be. They were the schooner Arab, of Baltimore, 
Captain D. Fitch, carrying seven guns and a crew 
of forty-five men; the Lynx, Captain E. Taylor, of six 
guns and forty men; the Racer, Captain D. Chaytor, 
of six guns and thirty-six men; and the Dolphin, Cap- 
tain W. S. Stafford, carrying twelve guns and one 
hundred men, then starting out for another cruise. 

As soon as these vessels were made out from the 
enemy's mastheads, the British sent seventeen boats, 
with a large force of men under the command of Lieu- 
tenant James Polkinghorne, against them. Unfortu- 
nately for the privateers it was calm at the time, 
and as their vessels were too far apart to be within 
supporting distance of each other the British were 
able to attack them separately. They selected the 
Arab as being farther down stream and made a dash 
for her. This boat was not surrendered, however, 
without a desperate struggle, in which both sides 
sustained the heaviest losses of the day. The Brit- 
ish then made for the Lynso, whose people, observing 
the fate of the Aral, and seeing that resistance was 
hopeless, hauled down their colors at the first sum- 
mons. Some resistance was made in the Racer, but 
that vessel also was carried after a short struggle. 
There now remained only the Dolphin, on which craft 
the enemy turned the guns of their prizes. For two 
hours Captain Stafford responded gallantly, but in 
the final boat attack he was compelled to surrender. 
In this affair the British admit a loss of two killed 
and eleven wounded, including Lieutenant Polking- 
horne. According to American reports the enemy 
had fifty killed or wounded, while Stafford places his 
losses at six killed and ten wounded. 

For the part he took in this spirited affair Polk- 
inghorne was promoted to the rank of commander, 
while the Dolphin, the Racer, and Lynx were taken 
into the British service, the last two under the 
names Shelbourne and MusquetoUte. The Shelbourne 
was with the British 36-gun frigate Orpheus in 1814 


when she captured the new American IS-gun sloop 
of war Frolic. In consideration of his kind treat- 
ment of Englishmen who had fallen into his hands 
earlier in the war, Captain Stafford was cordially 
received by Sir John Warren, and in a few days was 
released and sent to Baltimore. Captain George 
Coggeshall, of the American privateer David Porter, 
who was intimately acquainted with Stafford, de- 
scribes him as follows: "I always found him a 
modest, unassuming, gentlemanly man. No one can 
for a moment doubt his unflinching bravery and gal- 
lant bearing when he reflects on the many battles 
he has gained over the enemies of his country." The 
Dolphin, while under the command of Captain Staf- 
ford, had taken in all eleven British vessels, one of 
them carrying fifteen guns and another twelve. One 
of these prizes was burned at sea and another 
was recaptured, while the others including the 
schooner Fanny, valued at eighteen thousand dollars 
were brought safely into port. On November 27, 
1813, Captain Stafford, while in command of an- 
other privateer, was attacked while off Charleston 
by five boats from a British brig of war. One of the 
boats was torn to pieces by the privateer's fire, while 
the others were compelled to retreat, after having 
sustained heavy losses. The brig gave the Ameri- 
cans a futile broadside and then drew away. 1 

1 There were five other American vessels engaged in privateering bearing 
the name Dolphin. One of them, carrying five guns and twenty-eight men, 
under the command of Captain J. Endicott, of Salem, was one of the first 
to get to sea, and in a cruise of a few weeks captured three ships, seven 
brigs, and six schooners. One of the ships was armed with fourteen guns 
and another with twelve. One of the prizes was released, another recap- 
tured, ^h* Dolphin herself was captured by a British cruiser, August 12, 
1812. Another Dolphin, Captain H. Lclar : of Philadelphia, was a ship car- 
rying twelve guns and fifty-six men. She was not very successful, being 
taken at sea by the English Colossus, January 5, 1813. Dolphin No. 4 
was a two-gun schooner, credited with forty-eight men. Her career was 
cut short, August 13, 1812, off Cape Sable by the British sloop of war 
Colibri. Dolphin No. 5 was a one-gun schooner, carrying twenty men, 

1813. AN " IMPUDENT " CAPTURE. 469 

A maritime enterprise of a singularly daring na- 
ture was undertaken against the king's ships off 
Sandy Hook, where a British blockading squadron 
had long been stationed. Some of these vessels 
had become extremely obnoxious to coast traders. 
One of the vessels that especially aroused the ire of 
the Americans was the sloop Eagle, a tender to the 
British 74-gun ship of the line Poictiers, the same 
that captured the United States sloop of war Wasp 
just after her memorable victory over the Frolic. 
The Eagle had been cruising off the Hook, and had 
made herself so offensive to the Americans that they 
determined to capture her at any cost. On July 5, 
1813, a fishing smack, called the Yankee, was bor- 
rowed of some fishermen at Fly Market, and thirty 
or forty volunteers, under the command of Sailing- 
Master Percival, all well armed, were concealed in 
her cabin and in the fore peak. A calf, a goose, and 
a sheep were purchased and placed on deck in full 
view of any pursuing ship. Thus equipped the 
Yankee stood out to sea as if on a fishing trip to the 
Banks, three men dressed in fishermen's apparel 
and wearing buff caps being the only persons visible 
on deck. 

Scarcely had the Yankee cleared Sandy Hook 
when the officious Eagle espied her and immediately 
began a chase. Of course the three innocent-look- 
ing fishermen obeyed the first summons to heave to, 
and running alongside the English officers perceived 
that there was live stock on board an article great- 
ly in demand by these people, who had been keeping 
the sea months at a time on dreary blockade duty, 
having nothing but salt provisions to eat. The 
Americans were fully alive to this weakness of their 

under Captain A. Johnson, of Massachusetts. She seems to have accom- 
plished little, and was captured by a British cruiser, December 4, 1814. 
Dolphin No. 6 also was of Massachusetts. She was a mere boat, under 
the order of Captain P. Moore. 


cousins' appetites, and had purposely left the live 
stock conspicuously in view. The commander of the 
Eagle ordered the Yankee to go down to the British 
flagship, some five miles distant, thinking that the 
live stock would be a treat to the senior officer of 
the squadron. Just as the order had been given, the 
watchword " Lawrence " was passed, and up rose the 
concealed men and fired at the astounded enemy. 
The English were driven precipitately below decks, 
and did not stop even to haul down their colors. 

Observing that the Eagle's decks were cleared, 
Sailing-Master Percival ordered his men to cease 
firing, upon which one of the Englishmen came out 
of the hold and hauled down the colors. The Ameri- 
cans then took possession of their prize and carried 
her to the Battery, where the prisoners were landed, 
amid the cheers of thousands of people. The 
Eagle mounted a 32-pounder brass howitzer, which 
was loaded with canister, but so complete was the 
surprise that the enemy did not have time to dis- 
charge it. The Eagle was commanded by Master's 
Mate H. Morris, of the Poictiers, who was killed. Mid- 
shipman W. Price and eleven seamen completed her 
complement. Mr. Price was mortally wounded and 
one of the seamen was killed. 

On December 6, 1812, the privateer brig Mont- 
gomery, Captain Upton, of Boston, made a gallant 
defense against the English brig of war Surinam, in 
the vicinity of the port bearing that name. The 
Surinam carried eighteen 32-pounders and two long 
9-pounders, while the Montgomery mounted only ten 
6-pounders and two long 12-pounders. The war brig 
gave chase to the privateer, but in the half hour she 
was within gunshot the Americans managed to plant 
a solid shot in the Surinam's foremast, which so weak- 
ened the spar that the English were glad to haul off 
and permit the privateer to escape. On the 5th of 
the following May the Montgomery, while returning 
from the English Channel, was captured by the Brit- 


ish frigate Nymphe. In her entire career the Mont- 
gomery took six vessels. 

Another instance of an American privateer get- 
ting unpleasantly close to a British man-of-war was 
that of the schooner Grampus, Captain John Mur- 
phy, of Baltimore. On June 18, 1814, the Grampus, 
in company with the privateer Patapsco, of Balti- 
more, and the Dash, of Boston, was chased off Boston 
Harbor by the 74-gun ship of the line La Hague, Cap- 
tain Capel. 1 The huge ship of the line promptly 
began a furious chase, but by clever seamanship all 
the privateers escaped. It is reported on good au- 
thority that Captain Capel was so chagrined over 
this that he snatched the epaulets from his shoul- 
ders and threw them to the deck. 

Making for the Canary Islands after this escape, 
Captain Murphy cruised in that vicinity some time 
with little or no success, taking only the brig Specu- 
lator, from Lanzarote for London. She proved to be 
an old and comparatively worthless craft, and Cap- 
tain Murphy returned her to her people. Not long 
after this a sail was descried from the Grampus, to 
which chase was given. It was soon discovered that 
she was a heavily armed merchantman, or, at the 
most, a letter of marque so the Americans thought. 
Acting on this belief Captain Murphy hastened to 
close, and when near enough he called on the 
Englishmen to surrender; but by way of answer 
the stranger triced up a long row of covers, ran out 
ten or eleven black muzzles and belched forth a 
broadside that told, plainly enough, that it was not 
a merchantman or letter of marque speaking, but 
a full-fledged sloop of war. This broadside killed one 
man and wounded several others, besides occasion- 
ing considerable damage to the privateer's sails and 

i For Captain Capel's connection with the forgery of Sir Philip B. Y. 
Brooke's official report of the Chesapeake-Shannon fight, see Maclay's 
History of the United States Navy, vol. i, pp. xxv-xxvii. 



rigging. As soon as the astonished Americans re- 
covered from their surprise they made every exer- 
tion to get away from their quarrelsome neighbor. 
With colors still flying Captain Murphy gradually 
drew away from the sloop of war, and finally made 
his escape. In this affair Captain Murphy and one of 
his men were mortally wounded. The Grampus made 
eight prizes in this war. 

One of the last engagements between American 
privateers and the king's ships took place July 12, 
1814, in the English Channel. The 7-gun schooner 
privateer Syren, Captain J. D. Daniels, of Baltimore, 
put to sea in the spring of 1814, and made for Brit- 
ish waters. On July 12th she fell in with the cut- 
ter Landrail, Lieutenant Eobert Daniel Lancaster, 
mounting four short 12-pounders and manned by 
twenty men thirty-three according to American 
accounts. The Syren had about fifty men aboard at 
this time. As the Landrail had important dispatches 
aboard, Lieutenant Lancaster made all sail to avoid 
a battle. The swift American, however, gradually 
overhauled him, and a running fight, lasting one hour 
and ten minutes, resulted. At the end of that time 
the Syren had come to close quarters, and for forty 
minutes longer a desperate fight was made on both 
sides, when the Englishmen surrendered, having 
seven of their number wounded. British accounts 
place the casualties in the Syren at three killed and 
fifteen wounded. Captain Daniels placed a prize 
crew aboard the Landrail, with others to make an 
American port, but before gaming a place of safety 
she was recaptured and sent into Halifax. Return- 
ing to the United States, the Syren, while off the 
Delaware, November 16, 1814, was chased by the 
English blockading ships, and was compelled to run 
ashore, where her people escaped after destroying 
their vessel. The Syren had made six prizes in this 



IN point of numbers Baltimore took the lead in 
sending out privateers in the War of 1812, Boston 
being credited with thirty-five, Salem with forty, 
New York with fifty-five to Baltimore's fifty-eight. 
The exploits of many Baltimore privateers have 
been set forth in other chapters. Some of the re- 
maining craft fitted out in this port by private enter- 
prise rendered services of great importance. 

Among the first to get to sea were the schooner 
Revenge, of fourteen guns, and the Rolla, of five guns, 
the former commanded by Captain E. Miller and the 
latter by Captain E. W. Dewley, or J. Dooley. The 
Revenge had the good fortune to recapture a prize 
taken by the famous privateer General Armstrong, of 
New York. This was the brig Lucy and Alida, having 
a desirable cargo of drygoods aboard. Soon after 
the brig had been taken by the General Armstrong 
she was recaptured by the English letter of marque 
Brenton, of Liverpool. She was again captured by 
the Revenge, and this time arrived safely at Norfolk. 
Some of the other prizes made by this privateer were 
the ship Betsey, bound for Glasgow and sent into 
Wilmington, North Carolina; the ship Manly, mount- 
ing four guns, laden with wine, oil, etc., from the 
West Indies for Halifax, which was sent into 
Charleston; the schooner Fanny, from Trinidad, 
laden with sugar, also sent into Charleston; and the 
schooner Mary Ann, which was released, and the pris- 



oners placed aboard with orders to make for the 
nearest English port. The Revenge also captured and 
destroyed at sea, in July, 1814, the brig Silena and the 
sloop Friendship after seven thousand dollars' worth 
of drygoods had been taken from her. 

The Rolla was even more successful that the Re- 
venge, having made, in one cruise, seven prizes, carry- 
ing in all fifty-eight cannon and one hundred and 
fifty men. The cargoes were invoiced at over two 
million dollars. These valuable prizes were all made 
in a few days, December 12-15, 1812, near Madeira, 
and, although some of the vessels were heavily armed 
and made resistance, no loss was sustained by the 
Americans. They belonged to a great fleet that had 
sailed from Cork with a powerful convoy. The most 
satisfactory feature of these captures was the fact 
that soon after the Rolla left port she encountered 
a terrific gale, in which Captain Dewley, in order to 
keep Ms vessel from foundering, was compelled to 
throw overboard all but one of his guns. After the 
gale was over there seemed nothing to do but to 
make the best of their way back to port, but the 
crew of sixty men entreated Captain Dewley to con- 
tinue the cruise, and the result was that the Rolla 
made one of the richest '" hauls " in the war. Be- 
sides these more important seizures the Rolla burned 
the schooner Swift, of Plymouth (England), from St. 
Michael, and sent into New Orleans the brig General 
Prevost, from Halifax for Demerara. The Rolla was 
captured, December 10, 1813, off Long Island by the 
British frigate Loire, after one of the privateer's 
masts had been shot away. 

Two other Baltimore private armed vessels that 
made important captures early in the war were the 
Sarah Ann, Captain Richard Moon, and the schooner 
Expedition, Captain Murray. The former had a sharp 
action with the heavily armed merchant ship Eliza- 
beth, from Jamaica for England. The Englishman 
carried ten 12-pounders, and was laden with three 

1812-1814. THE " RE-RECAPTURED " SIRO. 

hundred and twenty-three hogsheads and some 
tierces and barrels of sugar, besides a quantity of 
coffee and ginger. The Elizabeth did not surrender 
until four of her crew had been wounded. The 
Americans had two men hurt. In October, 1812, the 
Sarah Ann was captured, and was carried into New 

The first prize taken by the Expedition was the 
first class schooner Louisa, of two hundred and two 
tons, carrying one gun, with a crew of twenty-six men. 
She was a first-rate vessel, from St. Vincent bound 
for St. John's, and had on board one hundred hogs- 
heads of rum and thirty barrels of sugar. She was 
sent into Newport, and the bounty allowed on the 
vessel, cargo, and prisoners by the Government 
amounted to about four thousand dollars. The Ex- 
pedition also recaptured the American schooner Ade- 
line. This vessel had sailed from Bordeaux with 
dispatches for the American Government and a mail 
of over four thousand letters. When four days out 
she was captured, after a hard chase, by a British 
frigate, in which all the dispatches and letters had 
been thrown overboard. Six days later the Adeline 
was retaken by the Expedition and sent into New 

The 12-gun schooner Siro, Captain D. Gray, was 
one of the " re-recaptured " vessels of this war. In 
the fall of 1812, the Siro, while making a run from 
France to the United States, captured the 10-gun 
ship Loyal Sam, with twenty-three thousand five hun- 
dred dollars in specie aboard, and carried her into 
Portland. Getting to sea again the Siro appeared 
off the Irish coast, and on January 13, 1813, was 
captured by the English brig of war Pelican and sent 
into Plymouth. The English refitted their prize and 
sent her out under the name Atlanta. On September 
21, 1814, the Atlanta was taken by the United States 
sloop of war Wasp. 

The Sabine and the Baltimore were two privateers 


about which little is known or, at least, few prizes 
are credited to them. The former, Captain J. Barnes, 
while on her way to France, captured and destroyed 
a brig from Lisbon, while the latter, Captain E. 
Veasey, is credited with two prizes the brig Point- 
Shares, of St. John's, and the schooner Dorcas, which 
was relieved of her cargo of drygoods and released. 

The 5-gun schooner Sparrow, Captain J. Burch, 
was captured by the enemy, and recaptured under 
singular circumstances. Captain Burch's first prize 
was the schooner Meadow, out of which he took the 
most available articles and then released her. His 
second prize was the schooner Farmer, of Nassau, 
which also was released, the British master highly 
complimenting Captain Burch for his liberal conduct, 
declaring that he would not even receive some poul- 
try without paying for it. On November 30, 1813, the 
Sparrow, while making a run from New Orleans to 
New York, with a cargo of sugar and lead, was chased 
ashore near Long Branch by the British 74-gun ship 
of the line Plantagenet and taken possession of by one 
hundred men. A detachment of the United States 
flotilla stationed at New York, under the command 
of Captain Lewis, marched against the enemy, drove 
them from the stranded vessel, and took possession 
of her in spite of a heavy fire of grape from the 
Plantagenet. The whole cargo, together with the 
sails, rigging, etc., was saved, and the vessel bilged. 

The crew of the sloop Liberty, Captain Pratt, had 
the satisfaction of enjoying some delicacies intended 
for the British admiral on the American station, 
John Borlaise Warren. The Liberty mounted one 
gun, and was manned by forty men. She captured 
the schooner Huzzah, which had on board a number of 
turtle for the British naval officers on the station. 
The Liberty also captured the schooner Dorcas, carry- 
ing two guns and thirty men, from Jamaica, hav- 
ing on board sixty thousand dollars' worth of dry- 
goods. The Liberty is credited with six prizes in this 

1818-1814. "HABDY MUST BE A NOBLE FELLOW." 477 

war. The little privateer Wasp, Captain Taylor, 
made three prizes. 

The Fox, Captain Jack, after taking eight British 
vessels, was chased one hundred miles by an Eng- 
lish squadron and captured. A letter dated New 
London, May 18, 1813, says: "The inspector of New 
London, on Friday evening last, took charge of a 
flag with the prisoners taken in the Fox and returned 
on Saturday. He was treated by Commodore Hardy 
[the British naval commander in these waters] with 
every attention; waited on by him and the first lieu- 
tenant to every part of the ship, even to the berths 
of the officers. The commodore expressed to the in- 
spector a total disapprobation and abhorrence of 
their conduct at the southward in burning defense- 
less towns and villages; and understanding, by the 
officers who went from New London, that some 
families were in mourning from these [atrocities] he 
begged him to assure the ladies that they may rely 
on his honor that not a shot should be fired at any 
dwelling at least while he had command unless 
he should receive very positive orders for that pur- 
pose, which he had not the most distant idea would 
be received. He hoped soon to have the pleasure 
of making New London a visit, not as an enemy, but 
as a friend. On the whole, Hardy must be a noble 

The Patapsco, the Delila, the Fairy, and the TucJca- 
hoe were four Baltimore privateers that were fairly 
successful. The first, Captain Mortimer, made three 
prizes. The schooner Delila, on her passage from 
Bordeaux to New Orleans, took a ship filled with dry- 
goods, but the privateer had sent away so many of her 
crew in prizes that she could not spare a prize crew 
for her latest capture. The Fairy, Captain P. Dicken- 
son, burned the .sloop Active, and sent into port a 
schooner having a valuable cargo of dry goods and 
provisions. The TucJcahoe, in 1814, on her way to 
Prance, burned at sea the schooner Sea Flower, and 


after capturing the schooner Hazard, from Nassau 
for San Domingo, and taking what was available, 
gave her up to her people. The Tuckahoe also took an- 
other English ship and sent her into port. While on 
the east end of Long Island the Tnckahoe fell in with 
the British blockading squadron, and was chased for 
several days. She eluded the enemy, and in March, 
1814, got into Boston, having been chased several 
times by British war ships. 

The privateer York, Captain E. Staples, began her 
career under inauspicious circumstances. On April 
18, 1814, while off Nova Scotia, she had a severe en- 
gagement with the British transport Lord Somers. 
After Captain Staples and five of his men had been 
killed and twelve were wounded, the 7ork hauled 
off. Soon afterward she fell in with the schooner 
Diligence, from Halifax for St. John's, and burned 
her. In July or August, 1814, she took the brig 
Betsey, with fish, from Newfoundland for Barbadoes, 
and sent her into Boston. 

The York returned to Boston in September, 1814, 
after a cruise of thirteen weeks, without having lost 
a man. She had spent most of her time on the coast 
of Brazil, and the value of her prizes aggregated one 
million five hundred thousand dollars. The YorJc's 
last cruise in the war, however, was very unsuccess- 
ful. She returned to Boston, April, 1815, having 
taken only one vessel, and that one had been prompt- 
ly recaptured by the enemy. Throughout the cruise 
she had experienced a series of heavy gales and 
four of her crew had been carried overboard and 
lost, together with several guns and anchors. 

The little 6-gun privateer Perry, Captain Cole- 
man, sent into the Delaware a schooner laden with 
rum, cocoa, etc. In 1814 the Perry made a cruise of 
ninety days in which she took twenty-two vessels, 
of which eighteen were destroyed at sea and four 
were sent into port. The Perry also captured, after 
a severe action, the British gunboat BaUahou, Lieu- 

1814-1815. THE XEBEC ULTOR. 

tenant Norfolk King, mounting four 12-pounders and 
having a complement of thirty men. On entering 
the port of Wilmington the Battalion was chased 
ashore by a British brig of war and destroyed. 

Almost as successful as the Perry was the 8-gun 
schooner Midas, Captain Thompson. Her first seiz- 
ure was the schooner Francis, taken April, 1814, 
which was burned off the French coast, with a cargo 
of bullocks intended for the British army. She also 
took the schooner Appallodore, with four hundred 
and fifty boxes of fruit, and sunk her. The Midas, in 
the course of the war, made fourteen prizes, one of 
them being the English privateer Dash, of five guns 
and forty men. Toward the close of the war Presi- 
dent Madison revoked the Midas 7 commission. 

The privateers Dellslc, Argo, and Diamond did not 
become so well known. The first, J. Taylor, made 
three prizes; the second, Captain P. Eider, in Septem- 
ber, 1814, took the brig Mary and Eliza, from Halifax, 
in lumber, and ordered her to port, but she was 
chased ashore near Barnegat and destroyed. The 
Diamond, Captain W. Davidson, in 1815 took the brig 
Lord Wellington, from Halifax for Havana, but she 
was released, in deference to the wishes of some 
Spaniards who were aboard as passengers. 

The first prize taken by the xebec Ultor, Captain 
Mathews, was a brig called the Robert, laden with 
fish and lumber, from St. John's for Jamaica, which 
was sent into Charleston. Her second prize, taken 
in April, 1814, was the brig Sirift, carrying four guns 
and fifteen men, from Halifax, with an assorted 
cargo, which also was sent into port. While in Long 
Island Sound, July, 1814, the xebec Ultor was at- 
tacked by two English boats, but the Americans 
made such good use of their firearms that one boat 
was beaten off and the other, with eight men in it, 
was captured. The command or of this boat was 
killed, and was buried in New London, where the 
xebec Ultor touched in order to dispose of her pris- 


oners. In the course of the war the xebec Ultor made 
fifteen prizes. 

The Pike and the Lawrence, bearing two historic 
names, got to sea toward the close of the war and 
were eminently successful. The former, Captain H. 
Bolton, in May, 1814, captured the schooner Hope, 
the schooner Pickerel, from Dartmouth, England, for 
Quebec, and the ship Mermaid, besides twenty other 
vessels. One of her prizes, the brig John, of London, 
for Teneriffe, was taken and burned within long- 
shot of an English brig of war that vainly endeav- 
ored to come up with the audacious Americans. The 
Pike, about September, 1814, was chased ashore on 
the Southern coast and seized by British boats. A 
part of her crew escaped, but forty-three were made 
prisoners. In her cruise the Pike released on parole 
two hundred and fifty men. One of her prizes, the 
ship Samuel Oummings, of four hundred tons, laden 
with sugar and coffee, was wrecked on the Southern 

The 9-gun schooner Lawrence, Captain E. Veasey, 
arrived at New York, January 25, 1815, and reported 
having taken thirteen English vessels, eight of which 
had been manned and ordered to port. She had 
made one hundred and six prisoners, but only fifteen 
were brought in. One of her prizes, taken November 
11, 1814, was the brig Eagle, and was ordered to the 
United States under Prize-Master John Snow. On 
December 7th, while the Eagle was making for a 
home port, two Frenchmen John Secar and Peter 
Grandjack and a negro named Manuel, who were 
among the prisoners, conspired with the former com- 
mander of the Eagle, and attempted to recover their 
vessel. Secar stabbed the man at the helm, and, fol- 
lowing him below, killed him, together with Prize- 
Master Snow and one of his men. The prisoners 
managed to get the hatch covers on, and so confined 
the remaining Americans below. One of the prize 
crew, John Hooper, was in the cabin when the attack 


was first made and received a bad knife wound in 
his hand. He was then lashed to the deck and kept 
there three days without drink or food. On the 
third day after the recapture of the Eagle, the sur- 
viving Americans succeeded in forcing the hatch 
covers and gained the deck. They soon overpowered 
the two Frenchmen, while the negro jumped over- 
board, cutlass in hand. On January 27, 1815, as the 
Ectyle was approaching New York, she was captured 
by the British frigate Saturn. Soon after this the 
Eagle was lost by shipwreck. Early in her cruise 
the Lawrence fell in with the St. Thomas merchant 
fleet, and, boldly dashing among them, Captain 
Veasey captured and manned eight large vessels, and 
actually beat off a brig of war before she could in- 
tercept the prizes. Several prizes were made by the 
privateers Viper, Captain T. N. Williams, and Reso- 

Of the privateers of Baltimore the 6-gun schooner 
Amelia, Captain A. Adams, was above the average 
in the number and value of her captures. She ar- 
rived in New York after her first cruise with eighty 
prisoners, having taken one thousand four hundred 
tons of shipping, valued at one million dollars. In 
her second cruise the Avidia captured two thousand 
two hundred and seventy tons of shipping and 
made one hundred and twelve prisoners. She ar- 
rived at Philadelphia in April, 1815. At one time 
she put into 1/Orient, where she was well received by 
the French authorities, but while on her homeward 
passage she touched at St. Barts for water. The 
governor would not permit her to take in supplies, 
and ordered her to leave port at once. The Amelia, 
although frequently chased, always escaped through 
her superior sailing qualities and the fine seaman- 
ship of her officers. 

The Ilurrixou, the Fti/reu, and the Whig fully sus- 
tained the reputation of the American privateers- 
uien. The first, a schooner commanded by Captain 


H. Perry, had a battle with a British sloop of war, 
whose commander was killed. The Harrison arrived 
safely at Savannah, August, 1814. In her second 
venture, made in 1815, she took a brig which was 
ransomed and a schooner which was sailing under 
Spanish colors, but carrying British goods. After 
taking out the cargo the Harrison released the 
schooner. This privateer is credited with six prizes, 
one of them being valued at one hundred thousand 

The 7-gun schooner Syren, Captain J. D. Daniels, 
seized two ships on the English coast and destroyed 
them. She also took, in December, 1814, the brig 
Sir John Sherbroke, mounting twelve guns, from Hali- 
fax for Alicant, with fish and oil. This vessel was 
manned, but she was chased ashore on Rockaway 
Beach by the English blockading squadron off New 
York, and burned by her prize crew to prevent her 
falling into the hands of the enemy. The Syren her- 
self, while returning from a cruise, was chased off 
Sandy Hook by the enemy's blockading force. She 
then endeavored to make the Delaware, but on No- 
vember 16, 1814, she was run ashore by the pilot. 
While in this position she was attacked by three 
barges from an English razee. For two hours the 
Americans held the enemy in check, when, finding 
that it was hopeless to continue the struggle, they 
set fire to the vessel and escaped to the Jersey shore 
with their six prisoners. At the time the Syren was 
attacked she had only twenty of her original 
crew. One of her prizes, the ship Emulation, put 
into the Western Isles and was abandoned by her 
crew. 1 

The Whig, an 8-gun schooner, under Captain T. 
Venice, made thirteen prizes. She arrived in New 
York, September or October, 1814, with twenty-three 
prisoners. A number of her prisoners had been sent 

1 For action between the Syren and the king's cutter, see page 472. 

1814. PRIZES OF THE WHIG. 483 

to England in the sloop Enterprise, one of her prizes, 
from Guernsey for Madeira, laden with drygoods 
and flour. Her prizes, the brigs Brunswick and Race 
Horse and the schooner Britannia, were burned 
at sea. 



FEW American vessels have had such a distin- 
guished career as the privateer schooner General 
Armstrong, of New York, fitted out, in part, by the 
shipping firm of Jenkins & Havens. This vessel, 
named for John Armstrong, in 1813 the Secretary of 
War, was always fortunate in having an able com- 
mander. She was first brought prominently before 
the public by an action she sustained with a heavy 
English war ship off Surinam Eiver. On March 11, 
1813, this vessel, then commanded by Captain Guy R 
Champlin, was cruising in five fathoms of water some 
thirty miles east of the mouth of the Surinam River. 
The weather was cloudy, but the wind was light and 
enabled her to stand closer in shore than usual. At 
seven o'clock in the morning Captain Champlin, 
while standing on a tack to the southeast, discov- 
ered a sail bearing south-southeast, and half an 
hour later he observed that she was at anchor under 
the land. 

About 8 A. M. the stranger seemed to have dis- 
covered the General Armstrong, for at 8.30 A. M. she 
got under way and stood to the north, firing three 
shots at the privateer and showing English colors. 
At 9.10 A. M. the General Armstrong hoisted the Stars 
and Stripes and discharged her long torn. It was 
apparent, however, that the stranger was far too 
heavy a vessel for the privateer to attack, so Captain 
Champlin edged away, ready to lead a long chase 


1813. DECOYED. 485 

if the stranger seemed disposed to pursue. At 9.50 
A. M. the stranger tacked and stood as near the 
Americans as the wind would permit, keeping up a 
brisk fire from her chase guns. Down to this time 
Captain Champlin was under the impression that 
he was dealing with a heavy war ship, but by 10.15 
A. M. the vessels were near enough for the Ameri- 
cans to get a pretty good view of the stranger. The 
opinion was prevalent in the General Armstrong that 
the stranger was a British privateer, and, yielding 
to the desire of his officers, Captain Champlin bore 
down to engage, hoping that she might be laden with 
a valuable cargo. At 10.30 A. M. he put his helm up, 
and, having every gun carefully loaded, came rapidly 
down on the stranger, intending to board in the smoke 
of his broadsides. As soon as within easy range Cap- 
tain Champlin poured in his starboard broadside, and, 
wearing ship, delivered his port fire also; but when 
he endeavored to run alongside the maneuver was 
frustrated by the enemy keeping off and continu- 
ing the action within musket shot. 

Now, for the first time the stranger revealed her 
real strength. Port cover after port cover along 
her dark sides were triced up in rapid succession, 
until the Americans found themselves facing four- 
teen guns on her main deck, six on the quarter-deck, 
and four on the forecastle. It was too late to think 
of running away, for in a twinkling the black muz- 
zles began to belch away, carrying death and de- 
struction into the privateer. For ten minutes the 
General Armstrong lay like a log on the water, while 
the stranger, having her starboard tacks aboard, 
managed to keep in range and poured in a rapid fire. 

The Americans kept to their guns manfully, and 
continued to hammer away at their huge antagonist 
with every gun that bore. Fortunately Yankee gun- 
nery was superior to that of the enemy, as it was 
shown to have been in so many instances in this 
war, which in some degree made up for the great 

486 CHJY R. CHAMPLIN. 1818. 

disparity of forces. At the first discharge the Eng- 
lishman's fore-topsail tie and mizzen gaff halyards 
were shot away, which brought her colors down. 
Her mizzen and back stays also were carried away. 
For a moment it was thought in the General Arm- 
strong that the enemy had surrendered, but this hope 
was quickly dispelled by the English renewing their 
fire and showing their colors again. For some time 
after this the Englishmen seemed to have lost con- 
trol of their craft, but they finally got under way 
and opened viciously from their starboard battery 
and maintop, evidently thoroughly exasperated at 
the rough treatment they had received from the 
audacious American and determined to sink her 

For forty-five minutes the G-eneral Armstrong re- 
mained within pistol shot of the Englishman, main- 
taining the unequal conflict in the hope that some 
accident would befall her adversary or some lucky 
shot would turn the tide in her favor. During this 
period of the battle Captain Champlin spent most of 
his time by the long torn, knowing that his main 
dependence was on this gun. So near were the ves- 
sels at times that he fired one of his pistols at the 
enemy with effect, and was about to discharge an- 
other when he was wounded in his left shoulder by 
a musket ball from the Englishman's maintop. The 
wound was a painful and dangerous one, but the 
heroic man, affecting indifference, coolly walked aft 
and had the hurt attended to by the surgeon. There 
is a limit, however, to human endurance, and, faint 
with loss of blood, Captain Champlin was persuaded 
to retire for a moment into his cabin. 

There, while lying on the floor, his hand still 
nervously clutching a loaded pistol, he overheard 
some of his men talking about surrender. The words 
seemed to give him new life, and he exclaimed to the 

" Tell those fellows that if any one of them dares 


to strike the colors I will immediately fire into the 
magazine and blow them all to hell." 

The captain's cabin was directly over the maga- 
zine, and every man in the ship knew enough of 
Champlin's character to believe that he meant every 
word of his threat and all thoughts of hauling down 
the colors were abandoned. 

When the enemy's gaff halyards were shot away 
and his colors down, the Americans lost an admir- 
able chance to deliver an effective blow. They let 
slip the opportunity, supposing that the enemy had 
surrendered. Had it not been for this Captain 
Champlin could have raked the deck of the English- 
men fore and aft with his long torn, which was 
loaded with a double charge of round and grape 
ready for firing, as the muzzle of the gun was within 
half pistol shot of the enemy's cabin windows. By 
this time it was seen that the Englishmen had suf- 
fered heavily from the privateer's fire, for they re- 
plied only at intervals and with poor aim. The Amer- 
icans then luffed to windward and forereached their 
antagonist, and by the use of what sails they had left, 
in making short tacks to windward, and by the use 
of sweeps, they gradually drew out of gunshot. 

In this spirited affair the Americans had six men 
killed and sixteen wounded. All the halyards and 
headsails had been shot away, the foremast and 
bowsprit were cut one quarter through, all the fore 
and main shrouds excepting one were carried away, 
both mainstays and running rigging were cut to 
pieces, and a great number of shot had passed 
through the sails and the hull, some of them be- 
tween wind and water, which caused her to leak so 
much that detachments of men were constantly re- 
quired at the pump. As soon as possible Captain 
Champlin got the foresheet aft and set his jib and 
topgallant sail. During the time the privateer was 
within reach the English kept up a well-directed 
fire from one or two guns aimed at the American's 

488 GUY R. CHAMPLIN. 1813. 

foremast and fore gaff, but fortunately without 

After running the enemy out of sight Captain 
Champlin made for a home port, arriving at Charles- 
ton, South Carolina, on April 4th. At a meeting of 
the stockholders of the General Armstrong, held in 
Tammany Hall, April 14, 1813, at which Thomas 
Farmer presided and Thomas Jenkins was secretary, 
Captain Champlin, his officers and men, were formal- 
ly thanked for their gallant defense of the ship 
and a sword was given to Captain Champlin. 

The General Armstrong was remarkable both for 
the value of the prizes she took and for the obstinacy 
of several of her engagements with heavily armed 
vessels. At the beginning of her career she had a 
desperate battle with an English ship carrying 
twenty-two guns and an unusually large crew. The 
battle took place at the mouth of the Demerara 
River and lasted thirty-five minutes, at the end of 
which time she compelled the enemy to run ashore. 
On another occasion she had a severe engagement 
with the English ship Queen, carrying sixteen guns 
and a complement of forty men. The Queen was from 
Liverpool bound for Surinam, w r ith a cargo invoiced 
at about ninety thousand pounds. Her people made 
a brave resistance, and did not surrender until their 
commander, the first officer, and nine of the crew 
had been killed. This, perhaps, was as valuable a 
prize as was made in the war. A prize crew was 
placed aboard, with instructions to make for the 
United States, but unfortunately, when nearing the 
coast, the Queen was wrecked off Nantucket. An- 
other prize of the General Armstrong was the brig 
Lucy and AUda, with a valuable cargo. She was re- 
captured by the British privateer Brenton, and taken 
again by the privateer Revenge, of Norfolk. 1 

1 Other prizes taken by this famous privateer were the 6-gun brig 
Union, from Guernsey for Grenada, in ballast, which was sent into Old 


On several occasions later in the war Captain 
Champlin showed himself to be a commander of no 
ordinary ability. On December 15, 1814, while in 
command of the privateer Warrior, cruising near 
Fayal, he made out an English frigate lying at 
anchor in the harbor just as he was about to enter. 
Well knowing that the English could not be de- 
pended upon to respect the rights of neutral ports, 
Captain Champlin promptly made sail to escape. 
This was about eight o'clock in the morning. The 
frigate's people discovered the privateer about the 
same time, and, slipping their cables, spread canvas 
in chase. The frigate proved to be a remarkably fast 
sailer, and in the run before the wind gained steadily 
on the American. After a chase of some forty or 
fifty miles, in a strong breeze and in squally weather, 
the enemy had got within gunshot, and as there were 
several hours of daylight left the Americans saw no 
hope of avoiding capture unless by resorting to some 

It was not long before the English opened with 
their chase guns, and the second and third shots told 
that they were unusually good marksmen for the 
British of that day. Captain Champlin now luffed to 
and showed his starboard battery, which maneuver, 
as he intended, was taken by the enemy as an indi- 
cation of his willingness to fight. The enemy there- 
upon shortened sail and prepared to give battle in 

Town ; the brig Tartar, laden with one hundred and sixty hogsheads of 
rum, which was ordered into Georgetown, South Carolina, but unfortu- 
nately she was chased by a British war brig and was wrecked on the bar, 
although her crew and cargo were saved ; a brig from the Leeward Islands 
for Guernsey, carrying six guns, with a full cargo of West India produce, 
which was sent into Martha's Vineyard ; the brig Harriet, sent into Porto 
Ricp (being short of water), where she was seized by the Spanish officials 
and given up to the British ; a schooner captured at sea and burned ; the 
brig Fhobbe, from Ireland for Madeira, laden with butter and potatoes and 
scuttled ; and the sloop Resolution, from Jersey for Lisbon, laden with 
linen, paper, etc., and converted into a cartel after the most valuable 
portion of her cargo had been taken out of her. 

490 GUY R. CHAMPLIN. 1814-1815. 

due form. Instead of accepting the challenge, how- 
ever, Captain Champlin threw overboard all his lee 
guns, with shot and other heavy articles. All these 
things were put over the port side so that the enemy 
could not discover what was going on, the starboard 
side of the Warrior being presented to the foe. As 
soon as his ship was relieved of these weights Cap- 
tain Champlin suddenly made all sail and managed 
to keep just beyond the reach of the frigate's bow 
chasers until night, when he had little difficulty in 
giving the enemy the slip. 

The Warrior was a beautiful brig of four hundred 
and thirty tons, built on the model of a pilot boat. 
She mounted twenty-one guns and carried a comple- 
ment of one hundred and fifty men. On another 
occasion she was chased by a ship of the line, from 
which she received several shots, but finally escaped 
without material injury. Before returning to port 
this privateer captured the brig Hope, from Glasgow 
for Buenos Ayres, which was relieved of a large 
quantity of her cargo of English goods, and sent to 
the United States in charge of a prize crew; the ship 
Francis and Eliza, carrying ten guns and thirty-five 
men, from London for New South Wales, having on 
board one hundred and twenty-four male and female 
convicts, and after taking out of her sundry articles 
she was allowed to proceed on her course; the ship 
Neptune, from Liverpool for Bahia, carrying eight 
guns and fifteen men; the brig Dundee, from London 
for Bahia, with three hundred and twenty-three 
bales of English goods and fifteen thousand dollars 
in specie, which was manned for New York. A three- 
masted schooner captured by the Warrior was lost 
on New Inlet bar, North Carolina. In her last cruise 
the Warrior frequently was chased by the enemy, 
and at one time was so closely pursued by an Eng- 
lish 74-gun ship that several shots came aboard. 



WHEN Captain Champlin gave up the command 
of the privateer General Armstrong, as narrated in the 
preceding chapter, he was succeeded by Captain 
Samuel Chester Eeid, who had been in charge of the 
275-ton schooner Bover, carrying six guns and thirty- 
five men. It does not appear that the Boxer had 
made any prizes. On the evening of September 9, 
1814, Captain Eeid, availing himself of the cover of 
night, got under way in the General Armstrong and 
passed Sandy Hook in an effort to evade the block- 
ading squadron and to get to sea. About midnight 
the dark outlines of a heavy war ship loomed up 
off the privateer's bow, and shortly afterward an- 
other vessel, larger than the first, was reported by 
the vigilant lookouts. These vessels were soon made 
out to be a razee and a ship of the line, and as there 
could be no question of their belonging to Captain 
John Hayes' blockading force the Americans hastily 
made preparations for a hard chase. The English 
discovered the privateer almost as soon as they were 
made out from the General Armstrong and instantly 
went about in pursuit. Captain Eeid quickly got all 
the canvas on the brig she could carry, and soon the 
three vessels were bowling eastward over a choppy 
sea at a lively rate. The privateer continued to in- 
crease her lead on her pursuers, and by noon of the 
following day they gave up the hopeless chasfe and 
returned to their station off Sandy Hook. 


492 BATTLE OF FATAL. 1814-1815. 

Early on the following morning, September 10th, 
the lookouts reported another sail, to which chase 
was promptly given. The stranger, which soon was 
made out to be a schooner, apparently was anxious 
to. avoid a meeting, and when the General Armstrong 
had come within gunshot she was seen to be re- 
lieving herself of heavy articles so as to increase her 
speed. Notwithstanding these extreme measures, 
the General Armstrong, after an exciting chase of nine 
hours, held the schooner under her guns. On inquiry 
she was found to be the 6-gun privateer Perry, Cap- 
tain John Coleman, of Baltimore, and had sailed from 
Philadelphia only six days before on a general cruise. 
It seems that the Perry had scarcely cleared land 
when chase was given to her by the enemy, and the 
little privateer had escaped only by throwing over- 
board all of her guns. This mishap, however, did 
not end the Perry's usefulness. After her meeting 
with the General Armstrong she returned to port, 
secured a new battery, and under the command of 
Captain E. McDonald made a highly successful 
cruise, taking in all two brigs, four schooners, and 
sixteen sloops. Eighteen of her prizes, made in the 
West Indies, were relieved of the most valuable por- 
tions of their cargoes and were destroyed, while an 
other prize was given up to the prisoners. 

It was the good fortune of the Perry in this 
cruise to render material service to the navy. It 
will be remembered that the 44-gun frigate Consti- 
tution, Captain Charles Stewart, sailed from Boston, 
December 17, 1814, on her most eventful cruise. She 
made directly for the coasts of Spain and Portugal. 
The British squadron that had been ordered to keep 
the dreaded Constitution in Boston, when it heard 
that this frigate had again given them the slip, im- 
mediately began a blind chase across the Atlantic 
after her. On January 4, 1815, while off the Western 
Isles, they fell in with a brig that had been taken 
by the Perry, which was then in charge of a prize 

1814-1815. BEID'S AUDACITY. 493 

master. This shrewd man quickly discovered the 
true character of the British vessels, but pretend- 
ing to take them for a part of Captain Stewart's 
" squadron " that commander, in fact, having only 
the Constitution for his "squadron," though soon 
afterward he captured two English war vessels, 
which answered the purposes he misled the Eng- 
lishmen to such an extent that, when they accidental- 
ly came upon Old Ironsides in Port Praya, March 10th, 
they failed to capture her. 1 

The day after her experience with the Perry, the 
General Armstrong sighted a British brig of war. Cap- 
tain Eeid, in his official report, briefly notes the oc- 
currence as follows: "On the following day fell in 
with an enemy's gun brig; exchanged a few shots 
with and left him." 2 The audacity of the American 
privateersman in thus deliberately venturing within 
reach of a cruiser's guns, and after exchanging a 
few tantalizing shots leaving her, is well shown in 
the too modest report of Captain Eeid. Boarding 
a Spanish brig and schooner and a Portuguese ship 
bound for Havana, on the 24th, Captain Reid dropped 
anchor in Fayal Roads on the afternoon of the 26th 
for the purpose of obtaining water and fresh pro- 

Anxious to get to sea early on the following morn- 
ing, Captain Reid called on the American consul, 
John B. Dabney, shortly after anchoring, with a view 
of hastening the needed supplies. The consul did 
everything in his power to assist the Americans, and 
at five o'clock in the afternoon went aboard the 
General Armstrong with some other gentlemen. Cap- 
tain Reid took this opportunity to ask after the 
whereabouts of British cruisers in this quarter 
of the globe, and was informed that not one Brit- 

1 For the details of this extraordinary comedy of nautical errors, see 
Ma-clay's History of the Navy, vol. i, pp. 632-639. 
* Official report of Captain Eeid. 




ish war ship had visited these islands in several 

Just as night was beginning to fall and the group 
of Americans was still on the privateer's quarter- 
deck discussing these matters, a war brig suddenly 
hove in sight, close under the northeast head of 

the harbor, within gunshot. 
Preparations were hastily be- 
gun to get under way, with 
the idea of dashing past the 
probable enemy and leading 
him a long chase to sea; but 
finding that there was only a 
little wind where the priva- 
teer was, and that the brig 
had the advantage of a good 
breeze, Captain Reid changed 
his plans. Inquiring of Mr. 
Dabney if the British could 
be trusted to observe the neu- 
trality of the port, Captain 
Eeid was told that he would not be molested while 
at anchor. Eelying on this assurance Captain Reid 
remained where he was. 

It was not long before a pilot was seen to board 
the war brig, from whom the English learned the 
character of the vessel in port, and they promptly 
hauled close in and anchored within pistol shot of 
her. About the same time a ship of the line and 
another frigate hove in sight near the headland, to 
whom the war brig instantly made signals, and for 
some time there was a rapid interchange of the 
code. These vessels were the British 74-gun ship 
of the line Plantagenet, Captain Robert Lloyd; the 
38-gun frigate Rota, Captain Philip Somerville; and 
the 18-gun war brig Carnation, Captain George Ben- 
tham, a part of the fleet having on board the ill-fated 
New Orleans expedition. The result of the signal- 
ing between the British ships was that the Carnation 


proceeded to get out all her boats and send them 
to the ship of the line. Having every reason to be- 
lieve that the enemy intended to make a boat attack 
upon him that night, Captain Eeid cleared for action, 
got under way, and began to sweep inshore. The 
moon was nearly full at the time, and as the sky was 
clear every movement of the vessels could be seen 
with great distinctness. 

When the Carnation's people saw the move being 
made by the privateer they quickly cut their cables 
and made sail. As the wind was very light, the brig 
made little or no progress, and, impatient at the de- 
lay, her commander lowered four boats, under Lieu- 
tenant Robert Faussett, and sent them in pursuit 
of the General Armstrong. It was now about eight 
in the evening, and as soon as Captain Eeid saw the 
boats coming toward him he dropped anchor with 
springs on his cable and brought his broadside to 
bear. He then hailed the boats, warning them to 
keep off or he would fire. No attention was paid to 
this summons, and, although it was repeated several 
times, the English persisted in holding their course, 
and even increased their efforts to come alongside. 
Perceiving that the boats were well manned, and 
apparently heavily armed, Captain Reid could no 
longer doubt that they intended to attack him, and 
he ordered his men to open with their small arms 
and cannon. 

The boats promptly returned the fire, but so un- 
expectedly warm was the reception they got from 
the privateer that they soon cried for quarter and 
hauled off in a badly crippled condition. Their loss 
in this encounter, according to American reports, 
was upward of twenty killed or wounded. Captain 
Reid had one man killed and his first officer 
wounded. Returning to their ships the British could 
be seen preparing for a more formidable attack. The 
Americans improved their opportunity to haul close 
into the beach within half pistol shot of the castle, 

496 BATTLE OF FAYAL. 1814. 

where they anchored the General Armstrong head and 

About nine o'clock the Carnation was observed 
towing in a fleet of boats, which, on arriving at a 
point favorable for their purpose, cast off and took 
a station in three divisions, under cover of a small 
reef of rocks, within musket shot of the privateer. 
For some time the boats kept up a series of maneu- 
vers behind these rocks, evidently preparing to make 
a dash at the Americans in three separate divisions, 
the Carnation in the meantime assisting the boats 
in every way she could, and holding herself in readi- 
ness to prevent the privateer from making a dash 

By this time the news of the first attack had 
spread over the town, and the shore in the vicin- 
ity of the castle was black with people eager to wit- 
ness the outcome of the battle. The governor and 
some of the leading people of the place took up a 
favorable position in the castle and witnessed the 
whole affair. 

But it was not until midnight that the British 
boats were in readiness to renew the attack; all the 
intervening time the Americans were lying at their 
quarters. At that hour the British boats were ob- 
served coming toward the General Armstrong in one 
direct line and keeping close order. Twelve boats 
were counted, each carrying a gun in the bow and 
containing in all some four hundred men. As soon 
as they were within point-blank range the privateer 
opened fire, the discharge of the long torn doing 
great execution, and for a time seeming to stagger 
the enemy. The British responded with their boat 
carronades and musketry, after which they gave 
three cheers and made a dash for the privateer. 

In a moment their boats were close under the 
General Armstrong's bow and starboard quarter and 
the command " Board! " was heard. The privateer's 
long torn and broadside guns, of course, were now 


useless, but the Americans seized their small arms 
and prepared to keep the English from gaining their 
decks. Pikes, cutlasses, pistols, and muskets now 
came into lively play and with deadly effect. Wher- 
ever an Englishman showed his head above the bul- 
warks it instantly became a target. Time and again 
the British endeavored to leap over the bulwarks, 
and as often were they repelled with great slaughter 
by the vigilant privateersmen. 

Not content with keeping the enemy off their 
decks, the Americans, with every repulse of the Brit- 
ish boarders, clambered up their own bulwarks and 
fired into the crowded boats with deadly effect. 
After this bloody struggle had lasted some minutes, 
Captain Eeid learned that his second officer, Alex- 
ander O. Williams, of New York, had been killed, 
and soon afterward that his third officer, Eobert 
Johnson, was wounded in the left knee. Mr. Wil- 
liams was struck on the forehead by a musket ball 
and died instantly. These two officers had been in 
charge of the forecastle, and had bravely defended 
it against the attacks of the enemy. The death of 
one and the disabling of the other had a noticeable 
effect, in the diminished fire of the American in that 
part of the ship. Having effectually repulsed the 
enemy under the stern of the General Armstrong, and 
fearing that they were gaining a foothold on his 
forecastle, Captain Eeid rallied the whole of the 
after division around him, and, giving a cheer, rushed 
forward. The renewed activity of the American 
fire forward so discouraged the enemy at this end 
of the fight that they retired with great losses after 
an action of forty minutes. 

Having completely defeated the British, Captain 
Eeid had time to look round him and count his 
losses and those of the enemy. Two of the Rota's 
boats, literally loaded with dead and dying men, 
were taken possession of by the Americans. Of the 
forty or fifty men in these boats only seventeen 

498 " BATTLE OF FAYAL. 1814 

escaped death, and they by swimming ashore. An- 
other boat was found under the privateer's stern, 
commanded by one of the Plantagenefs lieutenants. 
All of the men in it were killed save four, the lieu- 
tenant himself jumping overboard to save his life. 

Among the English killed were First Lieutenant 
William Matterface, of the Rota, who commanded 
the expedition, and Third Lieutenant Charles R. Nor- 
man, of the Rota] while Second Lieutenant Richard 
Rawle, First Lieutenant Thomas Park, and Purser 
William Benge Basden, all of the Rota, were 

From information Captain Reid received some 
days afterward from the British consul, officers of 
the fleet, and other sources, he believed that in the 
last attack the enemy had one hundred and twenty 
men killed and about one hundred and thirty 
wounded. On the part of the Americans only two 
were killed and seven wounded. The killed were 
Second Officer Williams and Burton Lloyd, a seaman, 
who was shot through the heart by a musket ball 
and died instantly. The wounded were First Officer 
Frederick A. Worth, in the right side; Third Officer 
Robert Johnson; Quartermaster Razilla Hammond, 
in the left arm; John Piner, seaman, in the knee; 
William Castle, in the arm; Nicholas Scalsan, in the 
arm and leg; and John Harrison, in the arm and face, 
by the explosion of a gun. The decks of the General 
Armstrong, however, had been thrown into great con- 
fusion. The long torn, the main reliance of the ship, 
was dismounted and several of the broadside guns 
were disabled. By great exertions the long torn was 
mounted again, the decks cleared, and preparations 
made to renew the action should the enemy see fit 
to attack. But the British did not attempt it that 

An English eyewitness of this fight says: "The 
Americans fought with great firmness, but more 
like bloodthirsty savages than anything else. They 


rushed into the boats sword in hand, and put every 
.soul to death as far as came within their power. 
Some of the boats were left without a single man 
to row them, others with three or four. The most 
that any one returned with was about ten. Several 
boats floated ashore full of dead bodies. . . . For 
three days after the battle we were employed in 
burying the dead that washed on shore in the surf." 

At three o'clock in the morning Captain Keid 
received a note from the American consul asking 
him to come ashore, as there was important informa- 
tion awaiting him. Captain Eeid did as requested, 
and going ashore learned that the governor had 
sent a note to Captain Lloyd begging him to desist 
from further attack, and that the British commander 
not only had refused to do so, but had announced 
his determination to take the privateer at any cost, 
and if the governor should allow the Americans to 
destroy the vessel in any way he would consider that 
he was in an enemy's port and treat it accordingly. 
Satisfied that there was no hope of saving his vessel, 
Captain Eeid immediately went aboard, ordered all 
the dead and wounded to be taken ashore, and the 
crew to save whatever of their personal effects they 
could. By the time this was done it was daylight 
and the Carnation was discovered standing close in, 
and in a few minutes opened a rapid fire on the 
Americans. Captain Eeid responded to this fire with 
his formidable battery, and soon induced the brig 
to haul off, with her rigging much cut, her fore-top- 
mast wounded, and some other injuries. 

After repairing these damages the Carnation 
again came down, and, dropping anchor, opened a 
deliberate fire on the General Armstrong, which was 
intended to destroy her. Captain Eeid, with his 
men, now abandoned the ship, after scuttling her, 
and repaired on shore. English boats then boarded 
the privateer, and, setting her on fire, soon had her 
completely destroyed. A number of houses in the 




town were injured by the Englishmen's fire and 
some of the inhabitants were wounded. A woman 
sitting in the fourth story of her home had her 
thigh shattered and a boy had his arm broken. 

For a week the English vessels were detained 
in the harbor, burying their dead and attending to 
their wounded. Three days after the battle they 
were joined by the sloops of war Thais and Calypso, 
which were detailed by Captain Lloyd to take the 
wounded to England, the Calypso sailing on October 
2d and the Tliais on the 4th. Captain Lloyd's squad- 
ron arrived at Jamaica on November 5th, where the 
English officers acknowledged a loss of sixty-three 
killed and one hundred and ten wounded, among the 
former being three lieutenants. On November 3, 
1805, Sir Kichard Strachan, with four ships of the 
line and four frigates, fought a French fleet many 
hours, capturing four ships of the largest rates. His 
loss was only one hundred and thirty-five killed or 
wounded. Captain Lloyd in this affair spent quite 
as much time in destroying a single American pri- 
vateer and lost nearly two hundred men. Such vic- 
tories, as this Bunker Hill of the ocean, are disas- 
trous to the victors. 

The serious nature of this action is better shown 
by a comparison of the losses the English sustained 
in their frigate actions with the United States in this 
war. Taking the losses that the British admit having 
sustained in this action, we have : 

Comparative English Losses in Frigate Actions. 





British squadron vs. Gen. Armstrong. . . 
Guerriere vs. Constitution 





Macedonian vs. United States 




Java vs. Constitution 




Shannon vs. Chesapeake 




Phcpbe and Cherub vs. Essex 




Endymion vs. President 




Gyane and Levant vs. Constitution .... 





Finding that his conduct in attacking the General 
Armstrong in a neutral port required an explanation, 
Captain Lloyd declared that the first boats he sent 
toward the privateer were ordered merely to recon- 
noiter the Americans, and that Captain Keid took 
the initiative in hostilities by opening fire on them. 
The circumstances of the case, however, fully bear 
out Captain Keid's belief that the boats were sent 
for the purpose of making an attack upon him. To 
reconnoiter an enemy's vessel in a neutral port with 
four boats carrying over one hundred armed men 
is too suspicious a circumstance to be easily ex- 
plained away, especially as these boats persisted 
in drawing nearer and nearer to the privateer, in 
spite of repeated warnings to keep off. Another cir- 
cumstance which weighs heavily against Captain 
Lloyd is the fact that when the Thais and Calypso 
sailed for England with the wounded he strictly for- 
bade those vessels to carry any letters or informa- 
tion bearing on the action. 

Captain Lloyd still further added to the infamy 
of his attack on the General Armstrong by the methods 
he employed to seize some of the American seamen 
when on shore. Under the pretext of searching for 
deserters he addressed an official letter to the gov- 
ernor, stating that in the crew of the privateer were 
two deserters from the squadron he commanded 
while on the American station, and as they were 
guilty of " high treason " he demanded that the Por- 
tuguese authorities produce these men. Kightly 
judging their man, the Americans, on gaining the 
shore, fled into the interior, fearful that Captain 
Lloyd, exasperated at his defeat on water, would 
follow up his attack on shore. The Portuguese 
governor, having no force at hand to protect him- 
self, was compelled to obey, and sending a guard 
into the mountains arrested the seamen, brought 
them to Fayal, and compelled them to undergo an 
examination before British officers. The alleged 



deserters were not found and the seamen were re- 

Captain Reid, with his surviving men, retired to 
an old Gothic convent in the interior, and breaking 
down the drawbridge prepared to defend himself 
against any further attacks the British might make. 
Captain Lloyd did not see fit to resume hostilities, 
however, and soon afterward Captain Reid returned 
to the United States and was received with distinc- 
tion. At Eichmond, Virginia, he was the guest of 
honor at a banquet where the governor and other 
high officials were present. Some of the toasts were 
highly characteristic of the feeling of the people 
toward our maritime forces at that time. They were: 
"The Xavy whose lightning has struck down the 
meteor flag of England: they have conquered those 
who had conquered the world"; "The Private 
Cruisers of the United States whose intrepidity has 
pierced the enemy's channels and bearded the lion 
in his den "; " Barney, Boyle, and their Compatriots 
who have plowed the seas in search of the enemy 
and hurled retaliation upon his head"; "Neutral 
p or t s whenever the tyrants of the ocean dare to 
invade these sanctuaries may they meet with an 
Essex and an Armstrong "; " The American Seamen 
their achievements form an era in the naval annals 
of the world: may their brother soldiers emulate 
their deeds of everlasting renown"; "Captain Reid 
his valor has shed a blaze of renown upon the 
character of our seamen, and won for himself a 
laurel of eternal bloom." 









PRIVATEERING, so far as the United States have 
been engaged in it, has been limited to our two 
wars with Great Britain. It is true that during our 
troubles with the French Directory, 1798-1801, let- 
ters of marque were issued by the Government; but 
these were used chiefly by our merchantmen as a 
license to defend themselves from hostile craft. The 
few actions that took place in which ships armed 
at private expense were engaged are notable as 
being exceptions. 

At the time the civil war broke out the commerce 
of the United States ranked as second in the world, 
being exceeded only by that of Great Britain. Of 
our large tonnage at that period, less than one tenth 
belonged to the seceding States, and that one tenth 
was quickly drafted into the regular service of the 
Confederacy or was destroyed by the vigilance of our 
blockade vessels and cruisers; so that there was, in 
fact, no field in which Northern privateersmen could 
engage. The Declaration of Paris in 1856 did much 
to discredit the practice of privateering. In re- 
sponse to the circular invitation issued by the 
Powers, Secretary Marcy, in behalf of the United 
States, proposed an amendment to the rules by 
which private property on the high seas in time of 
war would be exempt from seizure. The same 
proposition was made by the United States dele- 
gates to the Peace Conference at The Hague in 1899. 


504: CONCLUSION. 1861. 

Jfo action was taken on Secretary Marcy's sugges- 
tion, and the United States did not become a party 
to the Declaration. After Lincoln's first inaugura- 
tion as President, our Government opened negotia- 
tions with the Powers, offering to accede to the 
terms of the Declaration unconditionally, one of 
which discountenanced privateering; but Great Brit- 
ain declined to enter upon an agreement which 
would have been operative in the war then existing 
between the Northern and Southern States. 

On April IT, 1861, Jefferson Davis announced that 
he would issue letters of marque against the com- 
merce of the United States, and a few vessels sailed 
from the Southern ports with the license to " burn, 
sink, and destroy." By the close of May, 1861, some 
twenty prizes had been brought into New Orleans 
for adjudication. Most of these privateers were 
small vessels, old slavers, fishing schooners, revenue 
cutters, and tugs. Had it not been for the energy 
with which the blockade was maintained they un- 
doubtedly would have inflicted an enormous amount 
of damage on Northern commerce. As a rule, these 
craft concealed themselves in the many inlets along 
the Southern coast and pounced upon any unsuspect- 
ing merchantman that happened along. 

A few privateers made bolder ventures. A con- 
demned slaver, renamed Jeff Davis, cruised along 
the New England coast, but after making a few valu- 
able captures she was wrecked on the coast of Flor- 
ida. A schooner fitted out in Charleston, named 
Beauregard, was captured by the United States 
bark W. (?. Anderson, while the privateer schooner 
JudaJi was destroyed at her moorings in Pensacola 
by a party of officers and seamen from the frigate 
Colorado, under the command of the late Bear- Ad- 
miral John Henry Russell; 1 the present Rear-Ad- 

1 For an account of this handsome exploit, see Maclay's History of the 
United States Navy, TO! ii, pages 169, 170. 


miral Francis John Higginson, receiving a wound in 
that gallant affair which he carries to this day. An- 
other privateer from Charleston, the 54-ton pilot 
boat Savannah, was captured by the United States 
brig of war Perry and was carried to New York, 
where the crew were held on a charge of piracy. 
The Southerners met this step with threats of retali- 
ation on the prisoners in their hands, and the charge 
was not pressed. 

Probably the best-known Southern privateer was 
the Petrel, a revenue cutter converted to private use, 
which was sunk by a shell from the sailing frigate 
8t. Lawrence. The popular story that the 8t. Law- 
rence was disguised as a merchantman at the time, 
and so decoyed the Petrel under her guns, is en- 
tirely erroneous, the frigate simply giving chase 
to the privateer, and, getting within gunshot, sank 

Aside from these few unimportant instances of 
Confederate privateering, the South accomplished 
little in the line of private enterprise on the ocean. 
This was due principally to the rigor with which the 
blockade was maintained and to the vigilance of our 
cruisers on the high seas. The would-be privateers- 
men of the Confederacy, therefore, directed their 
energies to the more profitable occupation of block- 
ade running, taking out Southern products and 
bringing in munitions of war. The better-known 
commerce destroyers of the Confederacy, such as the 
Sumter, Florida, Alabama, RappahannocJc, and Shenan- 
doah, cannot properly come under the head of priva- 
teers, for they were quite as regularly commissioned 
naval vessels as were our Borihomme Richard, Alli- 
ance, Trumbull, Deane, or any of our other Continental 
war ships of the Eevolution. 1 

It is believed that all the actions in which Ameri- 

1 For an account of these Confederate commerce destroyers, see 
Maclay's History of the United States Navy, vol. ii, pages 508-m 

506 CONCLUSION. 1812, 

can privateers, both in the Revolution and in the 
War of 1812, were engaged, as well as all their im- 
portant captures, have been noted in this work. It 
is possible that some of the operations of our ama- 
teur cruisers have escaped the exhaustive researches 
of the author. If such is the case he will gladly re- 
ceive any reliable information on the subject, so that 
it may be incorporated in future editions. In sum- 
ming up the record of our armed craft fitted out 
by private enterprise it will be found that in the 
struggle for independence one thousand one hun- 
dred and fifty-one privateers were commissioned, as 
follows: Three hundred and seven from Massachu- 
setts, two hundred and eighty-three from Pennsyl- 
vania, one hundred and sixty-nine from Maryland, 
one hundred and forty-two from Connecticut, sev- 
enty - eight from New Hampshire, forty - four from 
Yirginia, eighteen from Rhode Island, fifteen from 
New York, nine from South Carolina, four from New 
Jersey, and four from North Carolina, while seventy- 
eight came from ports not designated. These vessels 
are known to have captured three hundred and forty- 
three of the enemy's craft, and it is probable that a 
considerable number of prizes were made of which 
the record is lost. 

In the War of 1812 five hundred and fifteen 
privateers were commissioned, as follows : One hun- 
dred and fifty from Massachusetts, one hundred and 
twelve from Maryland, one hundred and two from 
New York, thirty-one from Pennsylvania, sixteen 
from New Hampshire, fifteen from Maine, eleven 
from Connecticut, nine from Virginia, seven from 
Louisiana, and seven from Georgia, while fifty- 
five were from ports not designated. These vessels 
are known to have captured one thousand three hun- 
dred and forty-five craft of all kinds from the enemy, 
though, like their brethren of the Revolution, our 
privateersmen of the later war were careless in mat- 
ters of record, and it is highly probable that a large 

1816. AFTER THE WAR. 507 

number of seizures were made of which little trace 
is left. 

After each of these wars the vessels engaged in 
the privateer service were laid up, used in commerce, 
or were destroyed, while their officers and men were 
compelled to seek employment in the more peaceful 
pursuits of life. Years after the War of 1812 it was 
not unusual to observe men who had once com- 
manded the quarter-deck of an armed vessel, whose 
orders meant instant obedience and whose frowns 
were more dreaded than the heaviest gales or hostile 
cannon, bending over ledgers in the countingrooms 
of shipping ports or engaged in menial service. 
Finding their calling as sea warriors gone, these 
men entered any trade or business offering, where 
they soon discovered that the qualifications peculiar 
and needful for the successful privateersman were 
not only out of place, but a positive hindrance, in 
their new fields of activity. As a rule, these mighty 
men of the sea rapidly reversed the scale of promo- 
tion, and for the rest of their lives ground out an 
humble existence as drudging clerks, longshoremen, 
or wage earners. Like the noble ships they once 
commanded, their occupation was gone, and they 
were laid up to rust and wear out the balance of 
their days in an inglorious existence, waiting for 
Father Time, the conqueror of all, to remove them 
to their final haven of rest. They have, however, 
left a record in the history of their country which is 
well worthy of preservation, and it will stand as 
an imperishable monument to the gallant part they 
played in the defense of their native land. 


Achilles, 138-147. 
Ackerly, 0. B., xxvii, 
Action, 244. 
Active, 411. 

Active, British brig, 114. 
Active, British cruiser, 88. 
Active, privateer, 90, 117, 183. 
Active, sloop, 137. 
Adams, A., 481. 
Adams, Charles, 164. 
Adams, D., 17, 216. 
Adams, J., 74. 
Adeline, 338. 
Admiral Duff, 138. 
Adventurer, 197. 
Advocate, 323. 
Mna, 76. 

Alcock, Ensign, 37, 38. 

Alexander, 120. 

Alexander, Charles, 90. 

Alexander, War of 1812, 413. 

Alfred, 411. 

Allen, Henry, 352, 357, 358. 

Allen, Noah, 458. 

Allen, W. H., 434. 

Allibone, William, 179. 

Almeda, Captain, 424. 

Amelia, 481. 

America, frigate-built, 20. 

America, privateer, 16. 

America, schooner, 71. 

America, War of 1812, 828-335. 

American Revenue, 183. 

Amphion, 129. 

Anaconda, 25*-264. 

Anderson, Major, 92. 

Andrew Caldwett, 86. 

Angus, J., 116, 134. 

Ann, schooner, 16. 

Ann, snow, 73. 

AnnabeUa, 67. 

Anna Maria, 72. 

Antelope, 217-219. 

Arab, 467, 468. 

Arbuthnot, Admiral, 111, 177. 

Ardent, 148, 149. 

Argo, 85, 102-110. 

Argo, War of 1812, 479. 

Arnold, J., 458. 
Arrow, 24. 
Asia, 92, 93. 
Atalante, 217, 218. 
Atas, 822. 
Atlas, 251-264. 
Aurora, 90. 
Avery, Robert, 57. 
Ayres, John, 65. 

Babbidge, C,, 71. 

Babcock, G., 215. 

Babson, J., 240. 

Bainbridge, William, 366. 

Baker, J., 136. 

Baker, Lieutenant, 96, 97. 

Balch, G. W., 53. 

Ball, Mr., 288, 

Baltimore, 475. 

Baltimore Hero, 78, 133. 

Barclay, Consul-General, 87. 

Barnes, J., 423, 424, 476. 

Barney, Joshua, in Pomona, 79-84; 
prisoner in Yarmouth, 148-151 ; es- 
cape from Old Mill Prison, 151-160 ; 
in South Carolina, 161-164 ; in Samp- 
son, 301-305 ; in kossie, 305-307. 

Barrett, G. W., 809-313. 

Barren, James, 64 

Barry, John, 85. 

Bartlett, John R., 168. 

Basden, W. B., 498. 

Beatley, J., 458. 

Beauregard, 504 

Beaver, privateer, 119. 

Beaver, sloop, 73. 

Bedford, Joseph, 183. 

Beecher, J., 822. 
Belisarius, 68. 
Bell, Mrs. Elizabeth, 16. 
Bella, 119. 
Bellamy, Samuel, 38. 

Belu che, B,, 322. 
Benjamin, Franklin, 14. 
B&noamm FranUin, War of 1812, 439. 
Bemington, 115. 
Benson, the Rev. Mr., 15. 



Benson, Thomas, 139. 
Bentham, George, 494. 
Betsey, English privateer, 110 
Betsey, sloop, 72, 73. 
Betsey and Polly, 73. 
Biddle, Nicholas, 76, 90. 
Biddle, Owen, 75. 
Black Joke, 228. 
Black Prince, 119. 
Black Snake, 77. 
Blair, Captain, 76. 
Blair, R., 456. 
Blase Castle, 215. 
Blessing of the Bay, 35. 
Blockade, 323. 
Blonde, 17, 216. 
Bloodhound, 227, 228. 
Blum, J. M., 274. 
Bolton, H., 480. 
Bonnett, Steed, 33, 34. 
Bormer, B., 64. 
Boston, 199, 206. 
Bourmaster, John, 64. 
Bowen, Ephraim, 47, 50. 
Bowes, 285-287. 
Boyd, 430-432. 
Boyle, Thomas, 279-299. 
Brantz, Captain, 220. 
Bray, Captain, 243, 409. 
Breed, H. J., 392. 
Brenow, B., 228, 229. 
Brice, J., 73. 
Broadhouse, H., 215. 
Bromfield, Mr., 164. 
Brooks, George, 248, 249. 
Broom, 73. 

Broughton, Nicholas, 65. 
Brown, Addison, xxvi. 
Brown, Captain, 263. 
Brown, David, 316. 
Brown, K, 309. 
Brown, English captain, 26. 
Brown, John, 46, 47, 168. 
Brown, Joshua, 456, 
Brown, M., 134. 
Brudhurst, B., 73. 
Buccaneer, 90. 
Bucklin, Joseph, 48-50. 
Bucklon, Captain, xiii, 78. 
Buckskin, 409, 410. 
Bnffington Captain, 119. 
Bull, David, 35, 36. 
BuU Dog, 75. 
Bunker HM, 115. 
Burbank, 259.